Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Lance v 2.0

Unless you've been in a hole w/ bin Laden for the past day or so, the fact that Lance is planning a return to professional cycling should not be news.

This brings about a series of thoughts for me:

1) I'm kind of over the Lance thing
2) I was convinced he had doped, probably a lot, back in the day. But I'm OK w/ that, as it was the price of entry at the time and it sure was fun to watch
3) Now #2 is called into question, as Lance has committed to be completely and thoroughly tested, and will publicly post all blood values throughout his season

Regarding #1, Lance undoubtedly spawned many would-be cyclists' interest in the sport. But I have found a greater appreciation for the sport since he left. With his complete focus on the Tour de France, most of the US came to see professional cycling as a one-race sport. But there's so much more to it than that, and so many more personalities are competing now. They're all very intriguing to me. And the Tour has been interesting w/out Lance and his dominating teams. People actually look tired now (no doping, it seems), and no day's results are guaranteed. Learning more about the Spring Classics, smaller stage races, etc. has been fun. Lance used to compete in (and win) these races before his re-orientation to focus on the Tour. But his super-stardom came much later, and most people don't know about that part of his career. Amstel Gold? UCI World Champion at the age of 21? Not many know about those wins.

I suppose it's a little like a recent Internal Pigdog post on serious vs. casual runners - if all you know is Lance, then you're probably not a real fan. Cycling is a sport with a long tradition, many races and a lot of interesting quirks. But who can turn away someone who can bring the spotlight back to it? The sport needs Lance and the sponsors he can bring, especially in a year when multiple, long-standing teams have folded b/c of sponsorship pull-outs. It will be good theatre.

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