aruan: (ulcers at 30 won't be a surprise)
The Tour de France began yesterday. But with Tom Boonen ousted for an out-of-competition cocaine bust (why even make the distinction if it doesn't matter?) and the entirety of Astana banned over some dirty riders who have since been kicked off the team (meaning Alberto Contador won't get the chance to reprise his win, nor, for that matter, will Levi Leipheimer finally try for his own glory), I feel a little less enthusiasm for the event.

Or maybe I'm just telling myself that because the race is not being shown on any TV station in the Emirates. It might be up on YouTube, but Internet access is sold by gigabytes of bandwidth here, and there isn't a big enough package to let me watch two hours of streaming video daily for a month. Internet in the States may be pathetically slow compared with the rest of the world, but at least it's plentiful and unfiltered.
aruan: (j'allais vous retourner)
January through July is like a dead zone for me. Aside from the Vancouver Stargate convention and MegaCon, nothing interesting happened between New Year's Eve and that magical first week of July, when le Tour de France set out.

We reach Paris later today, and the last three weeks have been a blur of everything else (Deathly Hallows notwithstanding) wedged between hours and hours of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in a little booth commentating on a race that has no business being as riveting as it is.

Explaining the appeal of the Tour just doesn't work, because at the end of the day it is just men jockeying on bikes. But the whole thing is so epic - hauling themselves over the mountains, chasing down the breakaways on the flats, pulling out a win in the bunch sprint in a few strategic seconds, all through the crush of insane fans close enough to nudge their bikes along and artistic farmers who haul out their equipment just to depict a perfectly proportioned bicycle - even Phil and Paul continue to be impressed.

But it's debatable whether this past week has overshadowed the rest of the race. )

If Contador is clean, his victory shouldn't be cheapened by others who weren't, nor the taint of association. The sport has survived for 104 years - it will neither end today, nor will the accomplishments of those who upheld the sport's ethics be forgotten. Cycling is in no darker a time than baseball or wrestling or whatever sport will be busted tomorrow. However, cycling has done a lot more than any other to ensure that it remains an honorable contest. I for one will watch the conclusion raptly, and impatiently wait another year to hear the theme music that makes summer worth living through.
aruan: (Default)
Wanna go?

My favorite part: Riders get a detailed itinerary with maps and travel at their own pace without a guide, but a local staff member is on call to help with bike problems, move luggage and deliver wine.

I love people with their priorities in order.
aruan: (j'allais vous retourner)
Aah, the cyclism is upon us once more. Sadly, Mike's not here to enjoy it with me this time around, but OLN's transition theme still makes my heart leap. I wore my new bright yellow dress shirt (I should cave and apply for a Target card, really) as a nod to Tom "Boom-Boom the Tornado" Boonen (can we get just one more nickname for absurdity's sake, please? Though despite the boy PWNING the world of cycling, he hasn't quite found his footing yet in the Tour).

All the talk about who took over for Jan Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla, Alejandro Mancebo and Ivan Basso once the Operation Puerto drug screenings shook down was a bit depressing at the start. But by the same token, it's nice to hear the commentators describe the field as "deep and balanced" because, and don't misunderstand, like the rest of the world I concur that Lance Armstrong is a tremendous athlete (but please for the love of all that is holy STOP SHOWING THAT CRASH involving the spectator's bassinette) and a class act of a competitor, hearing the same five names (read: team Discovery Channel) over and over last year got a bit boring. Letting the underdogs (read: everyone whose name isn't Lance) like Christophe Moreau and Levi Leipheimer have a real chance at glory is just fun.

In my heart though, it's still Tom Boonen. No chance in the mountains (Bourg D'Oisans will be a MONSTER of a stage) but so nice to watch for now. He's this big kid (25 years old, 6'4" and 176 lbs) on a bike that looks all but outgrown, and it's incredibly darling in that way that I want to lick him kind of all over. [livejournal.com profile] zeplum put it perfectly: [T]hat smile? It's gotta be made from puppies and rainbows and glitter and SEX, because nothing else could be that purely cute, sweet, and utterly hot.

Lookit his beautiful... well, ALL OF HIM. )

In other things I love, Al Trautwig calls announcing the jersey standings "a fashion update of the Tour," while Phil Liggett swears that Robbie McEwen's stealth finish-line magic involves Harry Potter's invisibility cloak. Also, the drama so far: )

It really is anybody's Tour this year, kids.

Also, there are the bonus aerial views of France. With its castle ruins and palatial estates and centuries-old churches and hay bale sculptures and endless stretches of green in between, the entire country is beautiful. I know we joke that Europe is where history comes from, but France really is a spectacular country, obviously modernized but without abandoning what was. Especially here in Florida, that sense of history is almost completely lacking, which is ironic because while Miami only got on the map in the middle of the 20th century, St. Augustine is the United States' oldest city.

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