Friday, July 25, 2008


EMERGENT CROP. In the most recent years, Carlos Sastre has been a consistent also ran. Cadel Evans has been lurking, but not ripe for a podium finish in Paris. Christian VandeVelde rode support, as did Denis Menchov. These capable riders have moved forward as the Armstrong-era strongmen have, for one reason after another, moved aside.

LEGITIMATE CHAMPION. Every Tour de France is raced without at least a few "should have been there," "could have won it" cyclists. But they were injured. But their team wasn't invited. But they were under suspicion of doping. But... The eventual champion of this year's Tour de France will be a legitimate winner because he rode the full 21-stage course over 2,000 miles better and faster than anyone else who had equal opportunity to ride it. So, cheers to the eventual champion and every contestant who crosses the finish line in Paris.

ABSENT FROM THE FIELD. On the other hand, look who's not in this year's race: Alberto Contador, the defending champion. American Levi Leipheimer (in photo), last year's runner-up. Contador and Leipheimer's team wasn't invited to this year's race. Then there's Alexander Vinokourov, proverbial dark horse who was kicked out of last year's Tour for doping. And Floyd Landis, 2006 winner, stripped of his title for doping. Michael Rasmussen--out for doping. The list goes on. Some of the "not present" contenders should be there. Some should not. Perhaps some of them will have another opportunity to contest the Tour before they're too old. Others, tainted by doping, should just stay away for their sport's sake.

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