The old joke about the French was “Why did the French plant trees along the Champs-Elysses? So that the German soldiers could march in the shade.” Now the joke has another ending. “So that Lance Armstrong can ride in the shade to another Tour de France championship.
Armstrong may well be the best thing and the worst thing that ever happened to the Tour. He has always captured the interest and some coverage and advertising money from the US whenever he has been involved. I guarantee that I would not spend one second writing about the Tour were he not in it. When he retired after 7 wins in 2005, the US and much of the world forgot about the race. ESPN, and the Sporting News Radio would spend a couple of seconds on it only when a winner had been crowned.
But things are different now. Armstrong has crept within a couple of hundredths of a second of the lead. Given his previous performance through the mountains and the latter stages of the race, if he’s even, he’s leavin’.
His story is remarkable. 7 titles despite fighting cancer and the French organizers doing anything they could to prove he was cheating. The French have been violating their own guidelines in an attempt to catch him with anything in his body that is not approved. The French just can’t believe that anyone has the drive to keep his body capable of such accomplishments. I can’t help but think that MLB should bring the French drug testers in to help with the steroid problem.
Armstrong is carrying the American Flag and his team on his back. He deserves all the attention he is getting and more. It is only the race that deserves to be ignored unless Armstrong is involved.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits http://fryingpanpolitics.blog.com.