July came and went like a speeding bike down Winthrop Street in my hometown of Hallowell. Most days were long, with the simmering heat and humidity; the usual summer stuff. But one item missing from its customary place on the calendar was the Tour de France. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Grand Tour race has been pushed back, starting on Aug. 29 and running through Sept. 20.
Truth be told, most people who ride bicycles probably don't pay too much attention to the Tour, certainly when comparing it to the years when Lance Armstrong was burning up the French roads in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
And speaking of the big Texan. Like many celebrities, Lance has his own podcast titled THEMOVE. To fill the void of having no Tour to discuss and digest last month, the former pro cyclist decided to relive the old days by providing commentary on several key moments of his seven maillot jaune (yellow jersey) victories. The Best of The Blue Train — referring to the U.S. Postal Service cycling team — installments also featured former teammate George Hincapie and sports director Johan Bruyneel.
It was very informative getting the inside scoop on race tactics, etc., but it got a little awkward for me when they kept repeating phrases similar to "when we won" or "if this or that had happened, we wouldn't have won the Tour." Yes, they did win, but it was all taken away when Lance finally came clean about doping. And if you look on the official Tour de France website, there is no one listed as the first-place finisher from years 1999 to 2005.
As most readers of my blog already know, I'm a big fan of Lance Armstrong and meeting him in 2002 was a fantastic experience; one of the top thrills of my life. (See Lance: Champion on and off the bike) There's no doubt he was a great cyclist, but what he did was wrong and I wish he would continue to ride down the bike path of honesty and admit to losing the Tour.
More reading ...
Three new books have been added to my growing cycling library. Here's a brief description of each one, but I'll give you more details after I've turned the pages:
— "Balmamion" by Herbie Sykes (Rapha, 2020). Cyclist Franco Balmamion is the last Italian to have won successive editions of the Giro d'Italia (1962, 1963). He was a relatively unknown pro prior to, and after, his victories.
— "Greg LeMond: Yellow Jersey Racer" by Guy Andrews (Rapha, 2016). The only American — discounting what Lance believes — to capture the Tour de France. He did it three times (1986, 1989, 1990).
— "Tom Simpson: Bird on the Wire" by Andy McGrath (Rapha, 2017). A British cyclist who died during the 1967 Tour de France.
Time for a bicycle ride; please be safe!