One week and counting until the Grand Depart of the 2012 Tour de France. The Greatest Sporting Event 0f the Year. Period. Been there. Watched it. Celebrated it—not only throughout the Armstrong Years, but beyond.
Twenty-three days devoted to the most demanding team and individual sporting competition ever devised to torture elite athletes. Planned vacations around it. Watched every stage. Maybe even the same stage twice in one day. The ultimate game of chess, orchestrated by great team directors and carried out on the battlefield they call “le Tour de France” once each year.
Now, just eight days before the competition begins, arguably the greatest team director of all time, Johann Bruyneel announced that because of the allegations of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, he will not direct the Radio Shack-Nissan-Trek Team in this year’s race. Bruyneel is not an American and presumably not under the jurisdiction of the USADA. Neither the UCI nor the Tour de France organization has requested he not participate as Team Director. Bruyneel explains that “he doesn’t want the allegations raised by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to be a distraction for the team and the race.”
Once again, “Guilty until proven innocent!” seems the order of the day. This is beyond sad.
Have you read Bruyneel’s book, We Might As Well Win? Let this whet your appetite:
In 1998, this calculating Belgian and former professional cyclist looked a struggling rider and cancer survivor in the eye and said, “Look, if we’re going to ride the Tour, we might as well win.”
The cancer survivor and struggling cyclist, of course, was Lance Armstrong. Bruyneel’s dedication, coaching, and mentoring, and belief in an exceptionally motivated athlete (who cheated death when doctors gave him little chance of surviving cancer in 1996) led him on a journey that resulted in Bruyneel-led teams capturing 13 Grand Tour Championship victories in 11 years: the US Postal Service Team, Team Discovery, Team Astana, Team RadioShack, and now Team RadioShack-Nissan-Trek.
Enough. Already. Have we become so jaded that we refuse to believe that hard work, effort, determination, and dedication can make the difference between elite athlete and competitors?
This is just so incredibly senseless.
- Armstrong: USADA investigators violating rules (BostonGlobe.com)
- Analysis: Could Lance Armstrong’s possible downfall be linked to Garmin cyclists? (denverpost.com)
- Former Armstrong Team Manager Declares Innocence (abcnews.go.com)
- Former Armstrong team manager declares innocence (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Four U.S. Cyclists Opt Out of Olympic Consideration (nytimes.com)