Despite the scandals of doping, I love the Tour de France. As someone who rides, I can appreciate the ability of these riders to get up and down mountains. I love the colors of the peloton, the characters of the spectators that line the roads, and the pageantry and traditon of Le Tour.
To the casual observer, it's just grown men on bikes. But the tour is a series of attacks and counterattacks. You must protect your leader from the wind, road and other riders. Domestiques sacrifice. You work within your team and with rival teams. The peloton works together to close the gap on the breakaways. Strategy is paramount. If a rival takes off, you may not want your team leader expend unnecessary energy. So you send a teammate to "ride" your opponent's wheel and reign him in. It truly is a beautiful sport.
My friend Brent has had some good updates on The Tour de France on his blog.
I've been following Team Slipstream for about a year now. They got a late invitation to the Tour this year and are renowned for their comprehensive independent testing program. They are truly trying to field a clean team. They recently were able to pick up some big sponsors and are racing as Garmin-Chipotle. Not the strongest team in the tour, but they have really ridden well. Early in the race, they actually led the team standings. Their main rider, Christian Vande Velde, is 39 seconds off the lead going into today. If he can stay close, the Individual Time Trial could get him a podium position in Paris.
I am pulling for Vande Velde and Garmin-Chipotle. I am pulling for a race that will be free of doping a scandals. I am pulling for the Tour de France.