I wasn’t going to. All the doping cases have me fed up with the world of pro cycling. For the past three years, I’ve done posts about the different teams in the Tour, and who their sponsors are, and what they do. This year, I didn’t. I just don’t care anymore.
But now the Tour is underway…and every day, I find myself tuned in a little longer, absorbing a little more detail about the race…
Saturday, I was at a friend’s birthday party, and lots of other cyclists were there. Sure enough, one of the most commonly-asked questions was, “Are you watching the Tour?”
Not one person I talked to hadn’t seen at least some of it. One fellow said he’d missed the day’s action, and asked me what happened.
“Oh, Vinokurov decided to go for it,” I said. “He tried to catch the breakaway. Almost did it, too. It was really something to watch him attack.”
I caught myself. I knew as much or more about what was going on as my friends did, even after vowing that I was through with pro cycling.
“But I was yelling, ‘Doper! doper!’ all during his run,” I quickly added.
How did I get sucked into the Tour again this year?
It was innocent enough. My summer school teaching duties ended last week, and I now have some time on my hands. I didn’t try to tune in. In fact, I missed the first two days.
Then I started sneaking peeks. You know, the fabulous aerial shots of the French countryside — the castles — the chateaus. Then when they were passing through farm country the farmers created a large bicycle mockup with those huge round hay bales. And the wheels of the bike went round and round. And the wheels were formed by tractors driving in circles. Big tractors. It was terrific. I called my wife to come see.
So then we sat and watched. And watched until the end.
“That’s Mark Cavendish,” I told her. “He’s the best sprinter in the world. He’s British, but he rides for the American team HTC Highroad, so we can root for him.”
“So who do you want to win?” she asked.
I caught myself again. Don’t forget, I’m anti-pro cycling.
“Uh…I don’t know,” I replied. “I guess I don’t have a favorite. Any of the American teams would be fine with me.”
“Who are the American teams?” she asked.
“Well, there’s BMC…”
“Oh, from Houston. I’ve been by their place lots of times.”
“No, we went over this last year,” I said. “It’s not BMC Software. BMC is a Swiss bicycle company. But the team is based in Santa Rosa, California.”
Then I went through the other American teams: Radio Shack (she knew about them, from last year’s Tour), HTC Highroad, and Garmin-Cervelo. I ticked off the top riders on each team.
“Who are you rooting against?” she asked.
Team Sky's Xabier Zandio
“Team Sky,” I said. “They’re sponsored by BSkyB, the British satellite TV company. Rupert Murdoch owns 39 percent of BSkyB, and wants to buy the rest, but that phone hacking scandal is holding him up. I’ll root against anything with Murdoch’s name attached to it.”
“I’m not crazy about Alberto Contador,” I said. “I’d like to see Andy Schleck get his revenge this year.”
“Is he American?”
“No, Luxembourger. He and his brother Frank started Team Leopard-Trek this year. It’s based in Luxembourg, and is kind of an all-star team. My favorite rider, Fabian Cancellara, is on that team.”
“So you’re really for a foreign team.”
“No, like I said, I’m for any of the American teams.”
“Who’s going to win?”
“I think it might be Cadel Evans this time.”
“Is he American?”
“He rides for BMC, but he’s Australian.”
“Good grief,” she said.
“What can I say? It’s an international sport,” I answered.
During Sunday’s melee, Vinokurov wound up with a broken pelvis after a horrific crash that kn0cked several big names out of the Tour.
Monday will be a rest day. So I can get out and ride my bike, and maybe go a little longer than usual, coming off a weekend. Then I can get as much yard work done as possible, so there’s free time during the rest of the week to watch the race.
“Hey, did you read on Velo News what they said about…” called out one of my friends at that birthday party.
“Nah,” I told him. “I’m not that into the Tour this year. I haven’t read anything about it online.”
Then I reminded myself that Velo News’s coverage is pretty good. I’ll have to check it out — and even bookmark it.