There are several schools of thought on Lance’s return to cycling, or should I say his return to Le Tour de France. One is that he’ll overshadow the other great riders and future faces of the sport. Another is that he will pull greater numbers of fans, new fans, that the sport needs to help ensure longevity as more people get turned onto it.
I’m split on the issue; I see both sides. There are other cycling stars ready to step into the spotlight, and Lance will certainly command most of the attention now that he’s been cleared to race in this year’s Tour. At some point though new stars, Vande Velde or Evans for example, will step out of the Lance’s long shadows – it just won’t necessarily be this year.
Personally, I am a HUGE Lance fan. I admire his disciplined approach to training, his bullish competitiveness, and of course his spirit. Seven time Tour Champion or not, he’s a very special human being for everything he’s fought through and for what he’s doing for cancer awareness and research. So, in the 2009 Tour I’ll be cheering for him without question. Imagine the story if he won it!!!!
Even with Lance in the field though, there are tons of other riders I can’t wait to watch. Pretty much the whole Astana team is stacked with lead riders from Leipheimer, to Kloden to Contador who’s a fav to win for sure. This team is a powerhouse with, or without Armstrong. Let’s not forget team Ouch, with Floyd Landis! Floyd had his hip replaced and he’s expected to be in the mix contending for GC for sure.
Twenty-one days total, ten flat stages, eight mountain stages, two individual time trails and one team time trails – I’d say that sets up for a rider like Lance pretty well, but we’ll see starting July 4th.
The Tour this year, more than any recent year, is going to be full of great, great stories. We’re 64 days and counting!