WHAT WE'D LIKE TO FORGET. If you followed it closely or even sporadically, I'm sure you've got your own ideas or memories of this year's Tour de France. None of us can forget the downers: Patrick Sinkewitz, Alexandre Vinokourov, Cristian Moreni...and now Iban Mayo testing positive for doping and Michael Rasmussen being kicked out by his team for what appears to be lying about his pre-race whereabouts to avoid drug testing. Also, the Astana and Cofidis teams exiting the Tour because of their guilty teammates. Unfortunately, these scandals will hang over the 2007 Tour de France forever.
UNFORGETTABLE MOMENTS. But I'm going to name what are, for me, the Top Ten Moments of this edition of the Tour de France. It won't include the downers or the feats accomplished by the apparent dopers. I'll expand more on these as I have time:
1. The Prologue in London. A beautiful day on a grand stage before 2 million Britons. London was a grand village departe. In the photo, Scottsman David Millar rides past Big Ben. They've got to do this again...soon!
2. Alberto Contador putting Michael Rasmussen to the test with repeated attacks in the Alps and Pyrenees. The 24-year old Spaniard emerged as the dominant climber among the contenders...and had enough in the ITT to seal the overall victory.
3. Fabian Cancellara (in photo) winning Stage 2 in the Yellow Jersey, blasting past the sprinters to beat them at their game. Not only did Cancellara win the Prologue and Stage 2, he carried the Yellow Jersey into the Alp mountains before yielding it. After that, he worked hard for his CSC.
4. Robbie McEwen coming back from a crash in Stage 1 to beat the sprinters to the line. The old Aussie still has it in him to hang with the young guns, at least when he's healthy. His injuries from his crash in Stage 1 took their toll, but he would not abandon the race.
5. Levi Leipheimer's incredible Individual Time Trial in the penultimate Stage 19. He saved the best for last and sealed his place on the podium in Paris. Leipheimer proved a lot to naysayers and underestimaters this year.
6. German rookie Linus Gerdemann winning the first stage in the Alps. It was the ride of his young life. Let's hope we see more mountain gallops (back to back) by this outspoken anti-doper.
7. Daniele Bennati's two stage wins. The Italian won the first one as the only sprinter in a breakaway. He won Stage 20 on the Champs-Elysees surrounded by the best sprinters in the world on the biggest cycling stage in the world.
8. Discovery Channel's teamwork and Johann Bruyneel's strategies throughout the weeks. After a dismal showing last year, the Disco boys made their own post-Lance impression on the Tour. May they find a good, new sponsor and keep fueling American cycling hopes.
9. Tom Boonen and QuickStep's dominance in the sprint finishes. The best, hands down. You were surprised if Boonen or one of his boys didn't win a sprint at the line.
10. Robbie Hunter, Mauricio Soler, and South Africa's Team Barloworld for their effort and accomplishments as a wild card team. I hope they're back next year.