I starting watching the Tour de France several years ago. My wife had knee surgery in June of 2001 and was laid up on the couch all summer. She got sick of watching talkshows and stumpled across the coverage of the Tour de France on the Outdoor Life Network (now called Versus).
She got hooked and got me hooked. I never realized how much strategy goes into the race. Since then, I have always looked forward to the voices of Paul Sherwen and Phil Ligget during July.
For those first five years, we were watching Lance Armstrong dominate the race. (Sure, my watching was captured by having such a recognizable American win the race.)
I was even more intrigued last year, when the field should have been wide open without the dominance of Armstrong. It was huge disappointment when many of the top contenders did not participate in the race because of the blood doping found during Operation Puerto. Knocking out Basso, Botero, Sevilla and the Astana team. We thought it would result in a clean Tour. But the amazing comeback by Floyd Landis was marred by his testing positive for testosterone.
This year, it was once again a wide open field. Sadly, it has fallen apart again. Vinokourov, who won two stages, was booted out of the race for doping. Yesterday, the wearer of the yellow jersey (the race leader) Michael Rasmussen was kicked out for failing to report for drug testing prior to the race.
It was great watching Rasmussen, Contador, Evans, Leipheimer and the other contenders battle for victory in the Pyrenees. I am sad that the brave battle by Rasmussen on the slopes of the Pyrenees and his spectacular defense in the time trial is tainted by doping.
I am happy that the Tour is catching the cheaters. I thought last year's crack down would have made the riders realize that they can't get away with cheating. Perhaps next year the riders will realize that they will be caught if they cheat and therefore won't cheat.