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View from the Couch – 2009 Tour De France

The Great Hate

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It’s been four years since Lance Armstrong last dominated the Tour de France and there are still a whole bunch of folks who are very, very pissed.

The people who run the Tour are openly calling Armstrong a disgrace. He’s going to be greeted in France with not one but two books on the bestseller list on how his reign as the dominating cyclist of all time was a drug-induced sham. The drug testers are all over him shadowing him wherever he goes, sample bottles extended.  And due to that, Armstrong himself is angry because he hasn’t had a quiet pee in months.

When he begins his own personal defense on Saturday in a short Monaco time trial, he will be greeted by tens of thousands of fans looking for himto win the whole thing and just as many freaks wishing for spectacular failure.

It should be quite the wild ride.

There is no middle ground when it comes to this guy. Cycling fans either love him or loath him – but both agree he is easily the most important figure in their sport.

With him, the Tour is one of the major sporting events of the year. Without him, let’s just say the past few tours have been… difficult.

The year after his record seventh straight win, the two favorites, Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso,were banned by their teams a day before the start. Eventual winner Floyd Landis was found to have 11 times the amount of testosterone of ‘yer average porn star, and had his title stripped.

A year later Michael Rasmussen was leading the race when it revealed he had perpetrated an elaborate plot to avoid drug testing and was immediately dropped mid-tour.

Last year a handful of racers were caught, including a couple of stage winners and the king of the mountains, but the interest had fallen so far, the outrage was muted because the event had become such a farce.

Now it is back on the front pages again because of Lance – much to the tour’s delight and disgust.

Oh those French, they make things so complicated.

As for Armstrong himself, he sites the anger he generates as the reason he’s back. “I don’t want (my children) growing up and reading all these things about me and doping.”

To say that he’s a long shot is an understatement. He hasn’t won an official race all year long, and just a couple of months ago broke his collarbone in the GiroD’Italia.

Also, he’s not even the lead racer on his own team. Alberto Contador won the 2007 Tour, and he will have Armstrong working for him as a domestique on Team Astana. If Contador is in contention throughout, Armstrong will have no choice but to support his chances. However, if the Spaniard shows even the slightest weakness, Armstrong is free to go for the top of the podium.

Finally, at 37 years and 10 months, he is a full year and a half older than the oldest ever winner, Firmin Lambot of Belgium. The record has stood a while.

Lambot won in 1922.

After a 3 ½ year retirement, little training after quitting, and being on the bike for only six months – with much of his training curtailed or at least limited due to the surgery after the accident in Italy, few are giving him any shot.

Not Armstrong of course. This week he announced he expects to win.

Actually his quote was, “I’ll kick their asses.”

Why doubt him? He’s kicked bigger things before.

Regardless of what happens, the Tour de France is better off having Lance Armstrong back and the organizers will in turn benefit from his presence.

Expect a lot of gritted smiley French faces.

Cheers – Gavin McDougald – AKA Couch

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  1. ciscokid says:

    The french newspapers are the real a$$holes. And there are a few fans of foreign riders that are jealous bastards. But what all these morons do not understand is that hating Lance just makes him pedal harder, he feeds off of that and turns it into fuel. (Just like any good Texan, “Tell us it can’t be done…then stand back and watch us do it”)

    He is drug free and even his haters know it…time after time they test him and he is clean…even while his competitors get caught…he rides away clean. All you haters can lick Armstrongs drug free ass.