Tonight I turn to France, a place half a world away, where American cyclist extraordinaire Lance Armstrong is vying for his seventh and final Tour de France victory. After three stages Lance is comfortably in 2nd place behind American David Zabriskie. More importantly, he is already comfortably ahead of his top rivals, including German Jan Ullrich and Italian Ivan Basso, early in the race. In past races, he typically lagged behind in the early stages and overtook the field in the Pyrennes Mountains. Aside from a surprise drug test, this year the race has been incredibly smooth for him. He was the only racer tested, probably due to past allegations that he dopes. After all, how else is it humanly possible to win so many races consecutively without performance enhancing drugs? Simple–enter just one major race as Lance does each year and be a human machine (Lance is regarded by many as the fittest athlete alive in any sport). Barring a disaster, it looks like Lance will win his seventh straight Tour de France and will go out with one of the most amazing records of any athlete in history. His win record will likely stand for many years to come, just as Barry Bond’s 70 home runs in one season will remain untouchable in the post-steriods baseball era.
Despite setbacks off the course, including surviving cancer, allegations of doping, and his divorce, Lance still stands tall. It is great to see that he will likely join the ranks of greats such as John Elway and Wayne Gretzky and retire at the height of success rather than fade into mediocrity. After all, wasn’t Michael Jordan’s image slightly tarnished when he donned a Washington Wizards jersey and tried in vain to compete with teammates and opponents 10, 15, 20 years younger than himself? I think it is better to go out a winner than to burn out and fade away. One wonders how many consecutive victories Lance could have before he’s beaten in the Tour by up and comers such as David Zabriskie. Still, I think this should be left to the imagination. Imagination is often better than reality. Of course, Lance could still fail this year. He could get injured, or he could be eliminated from contention. Somehow, I doubt it. As much as the other riders want to win cycling’s top race, I think that sentimentality is working heavily in Lance’s favor. The St. Louis Cardinals had just as much right to win last year’s World Series as the Boston Red Sox, but sentimentality worked heavily in the Sox’ favor and they swept the Cardinals 4-0. The same is probably true for Lance this year.
I’ve watched the Tour for a long time, ever since American Greg LeMond began his impressive run of four Tour victories. As an American I feel excited and proud to see an American do so well in a sport dominated by Europeans. It will be sad to see Lance go, but I also look forward to see who the next dominating rider will be. Of course I hope it will be an American, but no matter what I will continue to enjoy following an entertaining Tour.
Note to InsadongKR: Thanks for the link on your site. I appreciate it! I also posted a link to your restaurant’s page on my blog. I used to go to Vancouver, B.C. quite often when I lived in Seattle. If I get a chance to visit Vancouver when I return to the West Coast, I’ll stop by your restaurant for some delicious Korean food. With so many Chinese restaurants in Vancouver Chinatown and Richmond, it’s great to see a Korean restaurant open up there. There definitely are not enough in the Pacific Northwest.