On the eve of the first stage of the Tour, dozens of riders have been kicked out for conclusive links to some Spanish doping ring. The riders who've been kicked out just HAPPEN to include Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, and Alexandre Vinokourov.
A European hasn't won the Tour de France since last century. Forget that--since the last MILLENNIUM, thanks to Lance Armstrong. And while I, as an American, am proud of Discovery and Postal's achievements, I also recognize that it's time for the American beast to rest and let the rest of the little mice catch up. How would Ullrich, former winner and constant second to Lance, place in the 2006 Tour? Would Basso rise from 2nd place into 1st? It was long overdue for the world to find out.
Now we'll never know. Could they have made it?
These names might not mean much to most people, but they are giants in the world of cycling. How could they be so stupid? How could they dope after seeing what happened to Lance? How could they dope, KNOWING that they'd be competing in EUROPE, where DOPERS GO TO HELL? How could they do this to us? I've loved Ullrich since I've known of his existence, and Basso won my heart as the young guy in the 2005 Tour. ...Are they fakes? Have they been outsmarting us all this time? Have they betrayed our trust? Maybe.
What's sick is that I find their actions oddly forgivable. I want to see them compete, I want them to become heroes again in my eyes, I want to know the answer to the biggest question in cycling: WHO WILL REPLACE LANCE? The answer to that question has changed within the last 24 hours. Sadly. Give me back the past. Tell me you were just kidding. Let these allegations prove to be false. Let them be forgiven. JAN! Tell me it ain't true! --I'm so afraid that this is his last realistically competitive year in the Tour. The next three weeks are uniquely epic. They will never be repeated. I will never know how things would have turned out.
...But they just had to dope. Even without Captain Constant Armstrong, they still had to dope.
I'm half-glad that this COMPLETELY LEVELS OUT ALL OF THE THREATENING AND TRULY WORTHY COMPETITION IN THE PLAYING FIELD because it gives Landis and Hincapie and other Americans a chance to keep up Lance's tradition. But it's bittersweet.
Damn, I wish I had OLN.