Posted by: cindystephenson | July 17, 2008

The Tour de France

Are you enjoying this year’s Tour de France?

For the uninitiated, the Tour de France is a grueling three week 3,500 km bike race through France. It’s cycling’s most prestigious race, and many regard the winner of the Tour as the top cyclist that year, regardless of other race results.

The route varies slightly each year. This year’s race begins in Brittany and takes riders through the Massif Central range. It then moves through the Pyrenees, across Provence to the Alps and into Paris for the July 27 finish on the Champs-Elysees. Some 15 million spectators line the route to catch a glimpse of the riders, and 2,000 journalists, photographers and camera crew cover the Tour for news outlets around the world.

Among the main contendors this year are Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Denis MenchovAlejandro Valverde, and Kim Kirchen.

From a social media standpoint, there are lots of ways you can keep up with the Tour. Bicycling.com has teamed up with the American Team Slipstream (sponsored by Garmin Chipotle) to host The Miller Diaries – a regular blog by one of their racers, Scottish cyclist David Miller. They also post the Garmin Chronicles, a daily race update, and you can follow them on Twitter at TeamSlipstream

Their mission is to race and win drug free. To provide full transparency, the director, riders, coaches, trainers and mechanics have given the media unprecedented access to the inner workings of their team.  They frequently have a camera on the Director in the race car. That’s commendable within a sport that has been plagued by doping scandals.

Tour de France organizers had hoped to be free of any drug incidents during this tour, but it wasn’t to be. Some feel, and I agree, that if the sport is going to shake it’s image of drugs and cheating, they need to go over the top and adopt a “zero tolerance” policy. If any rider tests positive, they should consider eliminating the entire team. A tough approach, but it would send a strong message to riders and fans alike. That didn’t happen in the case of Manual Beltran. Nor with Moises Duenas, who was riding in the top 20 overall when he was caught out. Team Columbia responds that things are turning around.

There’s lots more to say about the Tour de France, and I’ll blog about it again soon. In the meantime, if you’d like to share your thoughts please post a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

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