I’m an avid bicycle racing fan and have followed the Tour de France for many years. However, yesterday’s news that the Cofidis team has been tossed because of the positive test result of one of their riders and that tour leader Michael Rasmussen was fired by his team, and consequently dropped from the race, because he had misled his team, Rabobank, about his whereabouts when he missed pre-Tour blood tests, has shaken the greatest bike race to its core.
In effect, the Tour has been gutted by these events, not merely because of the cheating, but because some riders, such as Levi Leipheimer and Cadell Evans, have built their strategy around falsely powerful opponents and may have nothing left now that those riders have been dropped.
Whoever wins, whether it is young Alberto Contador of Team Discovery Channel or not, the race has been contested based on false pretenses. Contador, Evans and Leipheimer—the only three who seem to be in a position to win now—should use their victory to wipe cheating from the history books by underlining it. Each is a great athlete and would be a great winner for the Tour, but they can do more. They can save the Tour for the future.
So, let me suggest that the riders stop before the final circuits of the Champs-Elysees on Sunday. You see, the winner of the race is decided before the riders begin looping the Champs-Elysees. If the leader were fall and on the cobblestones, they would not lose the race because the clock has already stopped.
The circuits of the Champs-Elysees are one of the great pageants of sport. Because the race is so tainted this year, the riders should dismount and end the race without that pageant as a solemn statement that cheating is not wanted or tolerated. Then, the race can begin afresh in 2008.
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