This year’s Tour de France has been fascinating to watch, with Lance retired and the pre-race favorites taken out by the Spanish doping scandal. Some solid riders are left, and the race seems invigorated by anarchy in the peleton, with no one rider emerging as the padrone to take control over the tactics over the 23 day affair.
The Sunday New York Times magazine has a compelling article about the travails of Floyd Landis, the Mennonite cyclist who backed Lance in 2004 but quit to join Phonak, emerging as one of the top four American cyclists in the Tour this year. Floyd is riding with a bad hip — a a very bad hip — the kind of injury that would send normal people howling for the Demerol, but yet the guy was able to capture the top slot and the yellow jersey after an astonishingly difficult stage in the Pyrenees last week, surviving four consecutive cols or peaks and coming out in the lead.
The tradition of cyclists who ride through immense physical pain, in the world’s hardest sporting event, is part of the lore and drama that draws me in every July. Tyler Hamilton riding with a broken collarbone, Lance coming back from cancer, there’s a rider this year riding with a cracked vertebrae.
And now Landis is gritting his teeth (Hamilton allegedly needed dental work because of the griding his teeth were subjected to during his collarbone tour) and powering through what well may be his last Tour de France. No rider has come back to the peleton with an artificial hip, so Landis appears to be sacrificing everything this year for his one and only shot at the palmeares.
And I beef about a concussion?