Almost Tour Time

29 Jun

2011 mapIf you were around this time last year you know I love the Tour de France. Last year I blogged on each stage of the Tour – daily posts for three weeks – over thirty posts on the 2010 Tour de France.

Although I still love the Tour – have since the early 90’s and will as long as I’m breathing – my schedule isn’t going to allow me to cover the 2011 Tour de France with the kind of detail I did last year’s Tour.

I still will blog about it, possibly even daily updates with highlights of the Stage, but not the “pedal by pedal” coverage I gave it in 2010.

For many fans this year’s Tour de France doesn’t have the drama that last year’s did.  For one thing, a certain Texan isn’t riding and that alone takes some of the excitement out.  A bigger factor though is the unresolved status of last year’s race.  Although he was cleared by his own Spanish Federation of doping (Clenbuterol), the UCI (International Cycling Union) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) appealed.  The Court of Arbitration for Sport won’t hear the appeal until August so Contador will race this year’s Tour in a cloud of suspicion – and with the possibility of losing last year’s Tour championship.

Regardless, he is still the heavy favorite to win this year.  Even if he races without failing a single drug test he will likely bring more criticism and suspicion to a sport that already has more than it deserves – while all the other sports have less than they deserve.

That’s the part of the Tour that I could do without.  I love the race, without a doubt it is my favorite sporting event – nothing else compares – and I am a fan of all the big U.S. sports – but I hate the way the sport of cycling is viewed in the U.S.  Most Americans know little about bike racing and when they hear about the riders that dope (and alleged to have doped – Armstrong for one) their misunderstanding and lack of appreciation of professional bike racing grows.

And no doubt, the 2011 Tour de France will bring allegations of doping and failed drug tests.  Count on it. 

Also count on great racing – phenomenal displays of strength and skill – and exciting stage after exciting stage – for three weeks! 

The Tour de France is the Super Bowl of professional cycling and it starts this Saturday, July 2.  If you’re unfamiliar with how bike racing works, check out my Tour de France Primerfor the basics.  Also, by going to the link in the first paragraph you can relive last year’s exciting Tour de France – I just did.

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