In what has been proclaimed as his last Tour de France, American Lance Armstrong finished 23rd. His long-time competitor, whom he has shared a very public rivalry, Alberto Contador took the win.
Contador, from Spain, added his third Tour de France title in the last four years, winning by only 39 seconds over Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck. Contador’s finish was one of the five closest finishes in the history of the event which began 97 years ago. Alberto became only the seventh cyclist in history to win the event without actually winning a single Stage.
Of course, it isn’t the Tour de France without drama.
As with what seems to be standard with the “Le Tour” and its competitors, the squeaky wheel seems to get the most attention. Contador was criticized for taking advantage of Schleck’s broken chain in Stage 15. However, you could say the same about Schleck continuing on, while Contador and Armstrong were stuck behind a pile up in Stage 2. To each of their credit, both riders responded professionally to the actions of the other, and the race gives the sport a new rivalry to watch that could replace the Contador versus Armstrong that will fall into history should Lance stick to his word of not returning for another Tour de France.
This event, like the previous two he has entered, was destined to be Contador’s though. Much like you could say the same about the recent World Cup, the Tour de France was victory was destined for Spain, giving the Spanish a second consecutive victory in a sporting event that receives worldwide recognition in as many months.
Even Lance and Team Radio Shack made waves on the final day however. Lance’s LIVESTRONG cancer research foundation has always been a priority since his own successful battle with the disease. In the final Stage Armstrong and team suited up in special black and yellow jerseys, and despite still having the same Team Radio Shack name, and his sponsors like Nike, Oakley, and Trek, the commemorative jerseys were not well received by officials. Armstrong and the rest of the team were required to change into their original jerseys, holding up the final stage for about 20 minutes.
Although he has said he will not return for another Tour de France Competition, the temptation to return to competition for professional athletes is a tough one to get over. With his nemesis Contador adding another victory and the 100th annual running of Le Tour just a few years away, will Lance be able resist his natural competitive nature and remain merely a spectator?
Surely Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck won’t be waiting around for him, as they’ve displayed in this year’s Tour de France.