So after the first regular racing in nearly a decade, I find myself thinking of Lance and his Postal/Discovery boys in the Tour de France all those years. I have a newfound appreciation of precisely how much cycling mojo is required for a team to assemble en masse at the front of any bike race, let alone the Tour de France with the most elite pro cyclists on the planet. Anyone who races on any level knows how hard it can be to stay in the peloton when the gas turns up and it strings out 100+ meters @ 27-30+ mph. Add a few mph and a couple hundred meters to that equation and you get the TdF picture. There's a huge difference between hanging onto a wheel in the middle or back and being the first 10 guys. Let alone have your team BE the first 10 guys driving the train for 50+ miles at a time.
It was always an awesome display of cycling strength, but with this perspective, it takes on new meaning. I've spent some time early on Sunday mornings hanging onto the wheel in front of me, sometimes @ the redline, and when you look up the road and see that paceline stringing out as the elastic stretches, the VO2 Max and concentration all this can require does make you shake your head. Doping, schmoping, what Lance and his teams did in those Tours is just hard to fathom. Any way you slice it a textbook on bike racing tactics and team selection/management. Regardless of any other factors that represents a remarkable level of work/determination and the most amazingly consistent laser-like focus I've ever seen in sports, all in the hardest sporting event I can ever imagine.
P.S. Bicycle racing RULES. And elite pro racing does too. Doping may hurt the sport, but it won't kill it. It's far too compelling for that to ever really happen.