27 July 2007

Poker day

With the 2007 Tour de France all but decided (unless Levi pulls a LeMonde or Cadel blows away the pack), I spent the morning at the Aviation Club of France playing poker. There I spoke with a bunch of Parisians who voiced concern for the sport and disgust for the doping that's going on.

It didn't help that I'm an American and they see us as getting away with one of the the worst dopers in history - Lance Armstrong.

I tried to explain that Lance used EPO to recover from his cancer treaments, but the guys at the club didn't understand. Either it was my French or their English or both, but they don't think that a true winner of the Tour has existed since 1996. That year, Miguel Indurain won his fifth Tour de France.

Since then, Parisians I talked to feel that Bjarne Riis, Jan Ullrich, Marco Pantani, Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis have all been doping winners. The only rider not proven to have doped is Lance, but sports fans in any country can be a little irrational.

This year if it ends with Contador, Evans and Leipheimer, we could be starting a new era of drug-free riders and winners.

By the way - SPOILER ALERT - with 73KM left to go in Stage 17, four riders lead the peloton by more than 16 minutes. None of the leaders are in contention for the Yellow jersey and the Discovery Team is keeping the pace in the peloton high.

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