Sunday, July 11, 2010

Stage 8: End of an Era

If you haven't heard, read, or watched yet today, Lance Armstrong cracked in the Alps, and his hopes to win the Tour this year, or indeed, ever again were dashed.

Yes, it was bad luck because he crashed 3 times today, the worst of the 3 sending him skidding on the tarmac at 60 odd kilometers per hour. He bloodied his knee, his elbow, shredded the back of his jersey, and tore his shorts. The team worked hard to get him back up in the group, but at a certain point, after one more little crash, he began slipping backward. By the base of the last climb, he was too far back to recover.

Yes, Armstrong did have a shot at the prize this year. But through a series of bad breaks, we never got to see what he could do. It all came down to a couple of flat tires. Makes you realize what good luck he had in order to win the Tour 7 times.

Time to contemplate mortality, fate, and the passing away of things. We all age and we must adjust our goals as we travel inevitably forward through time. The old gives way to the new, and things are lost and gained at every moment. For Lance, it's over. An era in American cycling ended today.

Now we have to watch all those less-than-great Radioshack spots over and over as the Tour goes on, and feel the loss each time.

Lance has already said he'll stay on to support his teammate Levi Leipheimer, who now sits in 8th place on the GC, and looks ready to rumble. Contador didn't have that old pop in his legs today when Andy Schleck, the best young rider, zipped off the front to win the stage. And Australian Cadel Evans (known as "The Hobbit" in our house) also crashed early today, so as he put on the yellow jersey, he looked visibly pained, if mollified.

We're only in the Alps. We still have the flats to go, and then the Pyrenees, Bordeaux, the penultimate time trial stage, and finally, the victory stage into Paris, and the big sprint finish on the Champs Elysee. It's going to be a great race. And yes, I'm now watching the pre-show of the World Cup final, which should be very exciting, too.

But just for now, take some time to acknowledge what you have in this very moment. Enjoy it, appreciate it, because nothing lasts forever. And yes, what goes away leaves room for other great stuff. But it won't be quite the same stuff. So love it all while you've got it.

Go Lance. Ride'em, Cowboy, into the sunset.

Vive le Tour! A mardi!

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