Two depressing events took place on the not-popular-in-the-United-States sporting front today. Depressing for me, anyway.
First, a whole bunch of top cyclists were suspended from the tour de France, which starts tomorrow. The two top favorites, Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso, are out, as are Oscar Sevilla, Francisco Mancebo, and Joseba Beloki. I was rooting for Jan, who would have won several tours if it weren’t for Lance. I figured this year, he deserved a victory. But now he’s out.
There are about 50 more people implicated in this scandal; it could end up leaving the field pretty up-in-the-air. As far as I know, the entire Discovery Channel Team is still in the tour, as is Floyd Landis. Most of the sprinters are also still in the race, so there will still be some good stuff to watch.
Personally, I think they’re all on drugs. The tour is just a sick event. If you take out the two or three time trials, the average distance of a ride is around 120 miles. They have a few rest days here and there, but otherwise, they’re biking hard and long for three weeks. And the average speed over the course of the three week period is somewhere around 24 or 25 miles per hour.
They’re incredible athletes to begin with, but as five-time champion Jacques Anquetil once said, “you don’t win the Tour de France on mineral water.” A German sports journalist by the name of Hans Halter, wrote that “for as long as the Tour has existed, since 1903, its participants have been doping themselves. No dope, no hope. The Tour, in fact, is only possible because, not despite the fact, there is doping.”
Speaking of German journalists, they’ll all be writing about Germany’s victory over Argentina today. It ended in a shoot-out, which is always a bad way to end a game. I wanted Argentina to go on, but it wasn’t clear that they were the better team. Neither was Germany, for that matter, but someone has to advance.
Ideally from here (according to me), Portugal goes all the way. But if it can’t be Portugal, I’m rooting for Brasil.
England plays Portugal tomorrow: Brasil plays France. The semifinals are on Tuesday and Wednesday.