Daily Archives: July 18, 2002

Le maillot jaune

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I’m excited about the Tour de France, really I am, just as I am about most displays of outstanding athleticism. And I think Lance Armstrong is a tremendous athlete with a great story, and I’ve used one of his trainers’ muscle recovery techniques to maintain my Achilles tendon with marked success (stretch, stretch, then stretch some more). But damned if I can find anyone or anywhere where I can get a simple explanation of the rules in these damned races. How does the whole team thing work? What does it mean that a teammate led the way most of the way today, then dropped back to let Lance take the stage? How does all that work? The press reports it all as simple fact, as if every one of us had a Frenchman’s understanding of bicycle racing. I think it’s a good sign they don’t understand it themselves. And if you read the dispatches from former bicycle racers covering the race, they don’t bother with explaining the basic assumptions. Somebody just tell me how this damned thing works.
Let’s be honest, this thing would get ZERO coverage over here if it weren’t for Lance. We don’t cover a lot of bicycle racing in this country. Or yacht racing. Or distance running. Or even non-Olympic skiing. It’s a little frustrating for someone who doesn’t really think that doubling your normal body size with steroids and then banging your body into another steroid case is precisely athletic.