Wednesday, June 29, 2005
TOP TEN REASONS TO FOLLOW THIS YEAR'S TOUR de FRANCE
10. Cancer survivor Lance Armstrong may win his seventh consecutive Tour de France championship in the last race of his storied professional cycling career.
9. See first-hand proof that not ALL Americans are despised by the French (and vice versa).
8. Get a good look at the range of commercial sponsorships and creative advertising. See how many brands and sponsors you recognize...along with names you know nothing about.
7. Follow the duel between German Jan Ullrich and American Lance Armstrong down to the wire--one last time. Ullrich won the Tour in 1997 and has finished second four times since.
6. See if Americans Levi Leipheimer or Floyd Landis--both former teammates of Armstrong--can pull an upset over Armstrong and Ullrich.
5. Count how many sprint-to-the wire stage finishes are won by Australian Robbie McEwen. Watching these flying sprint finishes after a day of wearying racing is awesome. The Green Jersey is at stake.
4. Watch for "il diablo" on the roadside in every stage. It's a large man dressed up like the devil with a pitch fork; he's at most major European cycling events--and present at every stage of the Tour. Look for other weird characters, too.
3. Track the impact other Americans are making in this predominantly European event. In addition to Leipheimer, Landis, and Armstrong, there's big George Hincapie (riding shotgun with Lance for the seventh time), Bobby Jullich (CSC, 3rd place in 1998), Fred Rodriguez (Davitamon-Lotto), Guido Trenti (Quick Step; apparently an Italian American!), Chris Horner (Suanier-Duval), and David Zabriskie (CSC).
2. Drink in the grandeur of the Pyrenees and Alps--with the bonus of mountaintop finishes lined with thousands of cycling fans cheering every rider on his way to the peak.
1. 189 world-class athletes pushed to the limit for 2,000 miles on 2 wheels over 21 days of high drama through some of the most breathtaking terrain in the world. The Tour de France is a rolling feast in an otherwise uneventful month.
It all starts Saturday, July 2nd. Link to live coverage and learn more via the right sidebar menu.