As regular readers of this little dog-and-pony show know, we love the bike racing here. Just love it. Actually, it’s all of the endurance sports – the tougher, the better. As such, if I worked for Versus I’d send me to France this summer to help with the coverage of Le Tour… hell, won’t cost them nothing. I’m already on the payroll.
Be that as it is, we watched last week’s Tour of California with great interest. Many reasons for this were obvious – most of the best riders in the world were there, it’s California and a punishing event, etc., etc.
But the biggest reason, of course, was the return of both Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis to the racing scene. Depending on how one looks at things, the final results were mixed. Lance played a pretty good supporting role for Astana teammate and race champ, Levi Leipheimer and finished sixth overall. Lance rode well, though not spectacularly. He may have been the third best rider for Astana (behind Leipheimer and Chris Horner), and maybe the fourth-best on the team right now.
Of course it’s still early and the big test – Le Tour de France – is five months away. That doesn’t change the fact that Astana, the best team in the world, has some figuring out to do. Is Leipheimer or 2007 Tour de France champ Alberto Contador the leader of the team? And if so, where does that leave Lance? Certainly he didn’t come out of retirement to be a domestique.
Regardless, where Lance really distinguished himself in the Tour of California (the most-viewed spectator event in state history… over 2 million people witnessed various stages of the race that started in Sacramento and finished near San Diego), was with a certain spectator.
Actually, the spectator was dressed in a bumble-bee type costume… with horns on his head… and a trident with syringes attached… oh yeah, and a cape – the dude was wearing a cape.
Nevertheless, when the guy got a little too close and a little too annoying, Lance gave the bumble-bee man with a needle a shove that sent him sprawling into the snow. Then he just rode off, since, you know, it was a race.
Take a look (photos from Drunk Cyclist):
Meanwhile, Lancaster County native Floyd Landis had an up-and-down Tour of California. In his first race since that now infamous 2006 Tour de France, Floyd finished 23rd. He struggled early, partially because of a fall during training on his surgically-repaired hip, caught a cold, got tangled up in a mid-race crash, yet hung in. By the end, Floyd finished strong and rode strong and tough during the race’s final stage.
Hell, by the end of the race the once loquacious-turned-silent Landis was even talking to the press again. Albeit it briefly and after a feature appeared in The New York Times.
Floyd also appeared on the cover of glossy/fancy cycling mag, Road, though the only cool part about the featured interview was the photos. The interview itself was pretty unrevealing and pedantic, but the pictures were cool.