Watching the Tour de France this year was an unusual experience for me. The past few years I have watched it at home as it happened. This year, I was out of town attending the Adobe Community Summit in San Jose, and was unable to watch it. I thought for sure the hotel would have OLN – as it was a pretty upscale place, but it didn’t.
So instead, Becky recorded the stages for me. When I got home, I had a big stack of DVDs to watch. Fortunately, no one had told me any of the results, so it was going to be ‘just like watching it real-time’. The only clue I had gotten, was that one of the stages was bound to go down in history.
So I started watching the DVDs in the order the stages occurred. I got to the stage where Floyd Landis bonked, and coincidentally, later that evening it was announced that Landis was accused of doping, and couple potentially could be removed as the winner of this year’s Tour de France.
As those of you who watched the tour know, the next day’s stage was the ‘remarkable’ comeback. I felt ripped off. I didn’t feel the thrill and excitement that other viewers who had watched it live did. I did get to spend a few days thinking, ‘wow! What a remarkable comeback! What motivation! What skill!” Instead, I felt a huge let down. Did Landis really win the Tour de France fair and square, or were drugs indeed involved.
It is a sad day in cycling. This is an issue that needs to be dealt with. Cycling has grown to a sport that has much more interest than a decade ago. And we all know how that works. More fans, more advertising and sponsor money, more pressure to win – more drugs.
As a fan and a viewer of the Tour de France, I have to wonder if I am going to watch it next year? Do I want to spend that much time, ride the roller coaster of the ups-and-downs of the event, only to once again find that the winner, or top winners cheated? I want to watch the sport. I want to watch true athletes. Otherwise, I might as well be watching fake-wrestling on Sunday mornings.
To all pro-cyclists, and teams: please do your part to turn the sport of cycling back into a sport again.