Saturday, 27 July, 2002

Tour de France:  Effortless?

You all probably have read or seen by now that Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France again this year.  Descriptions of his victory go from "pre-ordained" to "effortless", without mentioning that he, his team, and the rest of the 153 riders who finished the Tour this year rode 2,035 miles in three weeks at an average speed of close to 25 miles per hour.  Believe me, there's nothing "effortless" about that, nor about the 11 months of training that went into preparing for the race.  Perhaps the few clips that ESPN or CBS Sports showed made it look easy, but that's a different matter entirely.  What those clips don't show are the four or five hours leading up to the finish, where the team is working hard to deliver the leader to the final sprint.  Those guys are working while the leader takes it comparatively easy in the middle of the pack.  Armstrong is the first to say that he couldn't have done it without the support of his team, and every cycling commentator has mentioned that the U.S. Postal Service team is by far the strongest team fielded in the last 50 years of the Tour.  And, no, I'm not saying that any top-ranked cyclist with that team could have defeated Lance Armstrong.

The nice thing about the Tour, the only sporting event I care much about, is that it only lasts three weeks out of the year.  Now I can go back to being oblivious about professional sports until next July.