Friday, July 18, 2003 Updated: July 22, 11:56 AM ET
Tour de Lance: Who cares
By Jim Armstrong Special to Page 2
I'm sure the P.C. cops will make me Jose Canseco's cellmate for saying
it, but I've had it up to here with the Tour de Lance.
That's what it is, you know. No Lance, no Tour. At least if Tiger
doesn't show up for a tournament, we can still laugh at Jesper Parnevik's outfit
and hold out hope that John Daly will go Tin Cup. Not so in bicycling, where
Lance is the show, the whole show, and nothing but the show.
Here's hoping he rides off into the sunset and never comes back. That
way, we can get back to giving that bike race in France the agate-page
paragraph it so richly deserves. And to think, I've got the same last name.
I can only imagine how the rest of you feel about it.
Tired of wading through a half-page of riveting bicycling copy to get to
your morning box scores? I hear you, bubba. Sure, it was a nice story when
it started, but by now it's gotten older than Jesse Orosco's bunions: See Lance
ride, see Lance win, listen to French officials whine in their wine.
Lance Armstrong has celebrated Tour de France victories one too many times. Retiring would not be a bad idea.
I'm sorry, I know he's overcome cancer and he's a great guy and all, but
since when was Lance Armstrong born in a manger? Next thing you know, Al
Gore will admit it actually was Lance who invented the Internet. Hoping for
peace in the Middle East? No problem. Send Lance over there on his trusty
two-wheeler. Heck, let's make it official right here and now: Lance for
When exactly was it that bicycling transcended recreation and became a
sport, anyway? For crying out loud, we're already passing off ballroom
dancing, skateboarding, chainsaw-wielding, street luge and synchronized
swimming as legitimate sports. Where do we draw the line? It's getting so
life's a beach volleyball game, then you die.
As far as I'm concerned, bicycling makes bowling seem like baseball in
October. Which reminds me. Is there a beer frame in the Tour de France? If
not, there ought to be.
Yeah, yeah, I know, those guys kill themselves getting up those
mountains. No argument there. Trouble is, the only thing more grueling than
doing it is watching it. If I'm going to watch a sport, it's going to
involve a ball, thank you very much, not a ball bearing.
All in all, I'd rather watch Mr. Personality, Barry Bonds, hit a ball
than Lance pedal a bike. Barry Bonds, now there's an athlete. By my count,
he's a three-tool player. (What, you think he can field and throw anymore?)
Lance is a three-tool player, too: a wrench, a tire pump and a screwdriver.
But then, I'd rather watch almost anything than bicycling. If I'm going
to watch a guy in a yellow jersey, it's going to be Randall Simon taking BP
on some hottie in a kielbasa suit. And while we're on the subject, if I want
to watch a bunch of guys whose names I can't pronounce, I'll check out
tennis. Provided, of course, it's mixed doubles and Anna Kournikova is in
Not that riding a bike doesn't have its proper place in the world. I
remember, when I was a kid, putting a couple of packs of baseball cards in
the spokes and, voila!, I was A.J. Foyt. These days, bikes are considered
racing machines and no kid in his or her right mind would put a baseball
card in the spokes for fear of ruining an Albert Pujols rookie card. Tell me
that isn't sad.
You might as well re-name the Tour de France, the Tour de Lance.
Hey, at least they don't call it the Tour de Philly. Thankfully,
bicycling is largely a European phenomenon. Which brings us to the French
officials who run the race. Every time Lance wins a stage, they cry
steroids. If they had a clue, they'd put their best pharmacists on the case
and serve him up a daily batch of 'roids to go with his wine and cheese. The
guy is the best thing to happen to bicycling since the invention of grease. And they still want to run his bicycle-seat-callused fanny outta there?
The French have been waiting for years for someone to knock Lance off his
throne. I say the sooner the better. Let them have their precious little bike race.
It's not like we haven't already stolen enough from them. Why, just the other
day, I supersized my fries at McDonald's. I like chardonnay as much as the
next guy and I can even tolerate escargot, provided it's on company money.
But as much as I'd like to see it happen, I'm not sure Lance is going away
anytime soon. Just when you thought all-Lance, all-the-time might be dying
down, he goes and wins the male athlete of the year award at the ESPYs the other night.
A bicycle dude winning athlete of the year at the ESPYs? I hear the early
contenders for next year's honor include a lumberjack from Oregon who can
cut through a redwood in three seconds flat, and an Eskimo from Nome whose
pack of barking mules is considered the Murderers' Row of the Iditarod.
Jim Armstrong, a sports columnist for the Denver Post, is a regular
contributor to Page 2.