I could have posted this a couple of days ago, Armstrong has had the 2005 Tour de France wrapped up for the last few days. Today's stage was completely ceremonial, to the point of being a bit ridiculous. The early kilometers today looked like a bunch of club cyclists out on a ride. I could have hung with them without breaking a sweat. Anyway, I'm not going to comment on the miniscule details of the tour, you can visit other sites to get your tour fix. I just wanted to give my thoughts on a few topics -- it is the biggest event in my favorite sport.
Armstrong was amazing this year. He made this tour look as if it was one of his easiest to win. He never seemed to be in trouble at any stage. He pounded on the time trials. He was more strategic this year than ever. Everything seemed to work amazingly well. At the ceremony Lance was given the opportunity to speak to the assembled crowd. Nobody has ever been given that opportunity before, ever. It was a small gesture, but shows how much Lance has stamped his legacy on this event.
I will miss Armstrong in next years tour. He's won every tour that I've watched. However, I'm also happy to see him retire and move on. I'm looking forward to the next round of winners, and next years Tour is going to be very exciting!
I ask only one favor. Lance, please, I beg of you, do not run for governor of Texas!!!
I've also decided that it is officially time to retire the Livestrong bracelet.
Michael Rasmussen had the worst time trial I've ever seen a cyclist have on the 20th stage. The poor guy went down in the first 10 km. His rear wheel just slid out from under him. He then had a bike change, and the new bike didn't work right. Another bike change. Then he fell off again going over his handlebars. Then another new bike. It was horrific to watch, turning completely comic after all the mishaps. It was almost a given that he would lose his 3rd spot in the GC to Ullrich, but I felt so bad for the guy.
I really hope that big Jan comes back next year and wins the tour. I would be happy for a number of other riders to win, Ivan Basso for example. It would be great if an American could do it. But Jan deserves it more than anybody else. He's been dogged by Armstrong year after year. If Armstrong would not have been a pro cyclist, we would be amazed over the Ullrich domination of the Tour. He should get another win before he retires.
...is huge! Around ten Americans played big, big roles in the Tour this year. The American presence was incredible. Additionally, Lance has changed the way America views cycling. I really hope that the excitement and attention that cycling gets with Lance continues to grow after his retirement. And the European Peloton simply is no longer just European. American's are definitely here to stay in pro cycling.
Alexandre Vinokourov was just amazing this year. Two stage wins, including the final stage in Paris, add up to a great tour. Vino is switching teams and clearly put in a great showing to increase his contract value for any new team. If he could be tamed and be supported by a full team, he could be powerful. After his explosive performances though, I'm wondering why he doesn't go after the 1-day spring classics more.
Landis and Leipheimer
Both former US Postal riders failed to impress this year. I don't think they had the legs or the killer instinct, but it's also pretty clear that Lance has no love for these former teammates turned team captains. When he takes opportunity to put the hurt on these guys, even though they are minutes behind and no threat, it doesn't look good to anyone.
We still have the La Vuelta a Espana in September to wrap up the cycling season, then a few months off and we'll be back in Europe for the 1-day classics.