The World Cup has come and gone, and some of you may be saying already, "What is soccer again?" But the Tour de France, where Americans are also dueling it out with Europeans and South Americans for world supremacy is still going strong.
As I said in early July, the American cyclists – just like the soccer team, were a long shot to win, but that didn't stop us from cheering them. Now we have a legitimate opportunity for an American to come in third, maybe even second in the Tour -- and he deserves our support.
The world's greatest bike race is about half over and the pre-race favorites have crashed out. Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Andrew Talansky are gone due to crashes that happened more because of rainy weather and bad luck than anything else. (Talansky being one of the Americans who had a legitimate shot to win.)
The leader is Vincenzo Nibali. After the way he rode up the final climb today, it's looking like no one will catch him. But lurking around in the top five now is another American I wrote about in my last blog – TeeJay van Garderen.
Teejay has been looking strong in the mountains and there's a solid chance that he could be on the podium in second or third place by the time le Tour arrives in Paris.
Think of this like cheering for the U.S. Bobsled team to get a silver or a bronze at the Olympics. We don't know diddly about the athletes other than the three minute vignettes we see on NBC – but by golly, if they are flying the Stars and Stripes – we cheer for them.
So tune in mornings or evenings to the NBC Sports Channel and listen to Paul Sherwin and Phil Liggett (who spent time in Roanoke and other parts of SW Va. in the mid-90's following the Tour DuPont.) with the call. Their British accents are irresistible.
See if Teejay can hang on as the riders climb the Alps this weekend and the Pyrenees the next. He's wearing a red jersey with BMC written on it. With any luck he'll be the one just behind the guy wearing yellow.
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