My wife Salome turned to me Monday evening and announced, "I miss the Tour." "Yeah, me too," I replied. It hasn't been a week since the Tour de France is over and we're experiencing withdrawal already.
We started following the Tour during a Summer vacation to Greece in 2000. Our young son, Alex was six months old. We'd awake in each morning and turn on the Tour as a way to start our mornings. It was Lance Armstrong's first year defending his title. It was a year in which Lance battled Jan Ullrich and Marco "the Pirate" Pantani. Lance appears to let Pantani take a win atop Mont Ventoux, which upsets Pantani to no end. We were hooked. We've watched the Tour every year since.
This year, my son Alex, now age 11, finally started absorbing the rules, rolls and games that go on the fight for the yellow, green and poke-a-dot jerseys. He listened to Phil Liggett & Paul Sherwen comment on the personalities and strategies, and started to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the various riders and teams. He started appreciating the beauty of the HTC train getting ready to launch Mark Cavendish on his sprint for the finish line. He understood how much effort Thomas Voeckler gave in trying to keep the yellow jersey for yet another unexpected day. He caught how the Schleck brothers worked as a team in the Alps, how Alberto Contador recruited Sammy Sanchez to work together while being from different teams, and how alone Cadel Evans was at the front of the Peleton as he tried to reel in Andy Schleck on Stage 17 in the Alps.
And, oh the crashes this year. It had me referring to this years' Tour as "The Year of the Wreck." While the number of crashes may not have been more than in other years, they were particularly horrifying to see on the screen. Many team leaders ending their tours on wet windy roads that dump them head over heals into ravines or worse.
In the end, Cadel Evans road a spectacular time trail on Saturday and was a worthy winner of this years tours. Seeing team HTC once again lead out Mark Cavendish for one last time on the Champs-Élysées was icing on the cake. No doubt Andy Schleck will one day win the Tour, and no doubt Contandor will win additional grand tours if the powers that be don't kick him out of cycling for a while. But to see 34 year old Cadel Evans, an old guy in this sport, win the Tour was very satisfying.
As for this old guy, I've got a sprint triathlon set up for this weekend. As I've told my friends, it's just too hot to go much longer at this time of year.
In other triathlon news, my Alaskan buddy, Mark Schroeder did his first 70.3 event, the Vineman 70.3 in Sonoma, California. When I looked up his results, I decided to compare them to my results from doing Vineman 70.3 last summer. While I was quicker on the bike and he was quicker on the run, we came in at the exact same time. To the second. Of course, I've now challenged him to a head to head event to break the tie. Congratulations to Mark and his wife Stephanie on their completing the Vineman 70.3 course.
Congratulations too go out to buddy Maria Price on completing Ironman Frankfort this last Sunday in 12 hours and change. Winds, rain, and intestinal discomfort could not stop this Ironman. Way to go Maria. I can't wait to hear your stories in person.