OK, OK, I can hear people saying, 'but they are all on drugs. Why should I care?' That's a good point. There is nothing in the most recent past to indicate that the sport is any cleaner this year than in year's past. We all hope that the sport is cleaning itself up, but without any hard data, it is a bit of a leap of faith.
So, why should we care? I think Eddy Merckx, the greatest cyclist of all time, said it best many years ago. When asked why the Tour de France was so great, his simple reply was "there is only one, you know."
Of course, that means different things to different people, but watching the peloton snaking through the beautiful French countryside or a dwindling group of riders attacking a monster climb in the snow-capped Alps is a sight to behold. Regardless of the drug question, these are the best riders in the world trying to win the biggest bike race in the world. It just wouldn't be the same if it were a bunch of amateurs in, say, Ohio.
Even though I have been to the Tour eleven times as a journalist, I still enjoy watching the race on TV. And years when I find myself at home, sometimes it turns out to not be a bad thing! I get up early and watch the day's stage live. At the conclusion of the stage, I am out the door on my own ride. For some reason, my legs feel a bit better; the pedals a bit lighter to push.
With the drug question still a work in progress, I am not asking you to turn a blind eye, but the history and pageantry of the Tour de France, especially as we celebrate the 100th edition of the race, is still something that can encourage people to take up the sport of cycling and motivate existing cyclists to push harder and train more. It's a great race.
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