Le Tour Babe’s Lament
Lance Armstrong had the worst luck of his cycling career on Sunday when he crashed halfway through the 118-mile race over steep Alpine mountains to Morzine. He clipped a barricade while riding at about 40-miles-per-hour and slammed down on his back. The wind was knocked out of him. His teammates helped him up and they tried to catch the pack of main contenders. But it was not to be. The tough Texan bonked. It’s hard to recover from such a hard fall. In the end, Armstrong finished almost twelve minutes behind the big boys, and was left out of contention for an eighth Tour victory.
It was like watching Batman fall to the Joker. We want our super heroes to be invincible. In past years, a younger Armstrong could have regained super-human strength and caught up to the race leaders. But yesterday, he proved that he is only human, and a weakened one. I’m not foolish enough to think Armstrong, now almost 39-years-old, would win this Tour. But I didn’t expect to see him to retire from the world’s most prestigious cycling race in such a way. It isn’t fitting for a seven-time Tour de France champion to have such bad luck. But it happened. Before yesterday, Armstrong represented a rebellion to aging. He already conquered cancer. This year he was going to prove that somehow we can beat gravity and perhaps the inevitable. But reality has set in, and the road to glory has come to a dead end. Or has it? There are still two weeks left in the Tour. Armstrong has surprised us before. Perhaps he will win a stage or two. Bonne chance, Lance!