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schencka
Why the Tour de France is badass.


(The now-disgraced Alexander Vinokourov, from Kazakhstan)

Here's a good site.

First, the Versus TDF coverage is quite compelling.

Next, the strategy of bicycle racing is exciting because it's based on suffering; to win the race, you must beat your opponents with pure will and the endurance of pain.

Riders must also fight against the course, and speeding down mountains is extremely dangerous, and a surprising amount of riders crash. Usually they grin and bear it and keep riding.

I saw one rider go headlong into a French dog.

And professional bicycle racing may have the best drama of all major sports, with all the suspicions of "doping," the amazing gains the riders sometimes make, the courage to break away from the peloton.

So, after Alexander Vinokourov got dropped by his team after heroically winning a stage, and now the yellow-jersey leader Michael Rasmussen got the same treatment -- both likely were on illegal substances or had blood transfusions -- I'm even more rapt.

The other thing that's sweet about the TDF is the panoply of obscure European languages and names.

The crazy fans are also a hoot.

And the visuals from helicopters flying over the French countryside, the Pyrenees, and Champs Elysee make me want to visit Europe once again.

And the fact that the sport places so much importance on bicycle technology is also cool.

It makes me want to ride my bikes.

So count me in, although those in the sport are tired of it all:

Fans booed Rasmussen at the start of Wednesday's stage, and mostly French teams staged a protest to express disgust at the doping scandals that have left cycling's credibility in tatters. As the starter's flag came down, dozens of protesting riders stood still as Rasmussen, ace sprinter Tom Boonen and several others began riding away.

Some riders were forced to lift up their bicycles to get around their protesting colleagues, who eventually rejoined the race after causing a 13-minute delay. But the message was sent.

"We're fed up," AG2R rider Ludovic Turpin of France told Eurosport television.


 
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