Being the fourth in a series of every day posts to mark Être ou Avoir’s first year.
I have brought back the Tour de France page on the blog today. It was used last year when the blog was born to keep track of my short commentaries on the greatest annual sporting event. From time to time during this year’s Tour I will write comments, or express my enthusiasm (or disappointment) of the events as they unfold. While this feature steps outside of the blog’s primary rationale, I include it as an outlet for my interest in cycling. I’m also trying to get other people interested in this great sport, so a little publicity here doesn’t hurt. If you have any questions about the Tour, cycling, racing, or any of the racers please let me know. Your comments are warmly welcomed as well.
In the past couple of months I’ve met two people who follow professional cycling more than I do, so I can no longer say that I am the biggest cycling fan I know. As all the confessions, testings, hearings, denials, and scandals (including the fall from grace of a former Tour champion) were coming out this spring I have to admit my enthusiasm for the Tour began to dwindle for the first time. In fact, as close as a few weeks ago, one of my new cycling acquaintances and I were lamenting that we just couldn’t get revved up due to all the new drug revelations. However, in the past week, we have spoken again and admitted that with the excitement of this year’s Dauphine (an important warm-up race to the Tour) and the Tour drawing nearer we were becoming hooked again. I will admit it here as well, I will follow this year’s tour. The number one reason being: Alexandre Vinokourov.
Vinokourov is my favourite cyclist of all-time, surpassing my youthful admiration of LeMond. Last year he was robbed of a Tour start because his teammates were suspected in cycling’s biggest doping scandal ever, and without a team you cannot enter. (The team aspect of cycling is just one feature that makes it a fascinating sport). He would have been a favourite last year, having consistently performed well before. Vinokourov was never implicated, and has never tested positive, but he suffered the consequences of others. On top of that his team lost its primary sponsor, and almost lost a license to race professionally. Vinokourov rallied support from businesses in his native Kazakhstan and assembled a new team (Astana), with new sponsors. He took them to Spain and captured the Vuelta. Now, he has the chance to be first in Paris, and I will be cheering him on the whole way. There is no other cyclist like him. His aggressiveness and never give-up attitude on the road is one of a kind. He can win mountain stages, flat stages, break-aways, and time trails. His stage victories in the Tour have all been astonishing pieces of cycling, and some of my best Tour de France memories. The list of what “Vino” has overcome could go on: death of his good friend in a cycling accident, betrayal by T-Mobile teammates in previous races, unfounded suspicions of doping. Vinokourov simply responds by attacking on the road, winning stages, wearing yellow, winning a grand tour, and now all he has left is to stand atop the podium in Paris.
There will be hundreds of stories from this year’s Tour, and I look forward to them all.