photo: l–o-o–kin thru under cc license.

Hopefully you all are watching the Tour de France. I realize that Lance is not there, but it was really sort of boring watching him own the front of the pack day in and day out. With the current doping scandal forcing many of Lance’s major adversaries out of the race, the Tour, which is about half over, has featured some dramatic breakaways, exciting sprints, and an ever changing lineup of leaders.

Most exciting is that even though they haven’t won their own race since 1985, a Frenchman claimed the leader’s position after the first stage in the mountains! Despite this, the day after, Lance’s old partners and fellow Americans Floyd Landis (who has been riding with an injured hip!) and Levi Leipheimer hammered up the Pyrénées with a Russian contender who ended up taking the stage. Despite an all-out effort from the Frenchman to keep his position, our very own Floyd took the yellow jersey and the lead of the Tour.

The French are still 2nd, though. They’ve actually put on a pretty good show this Tour with more than a few French names popping up at the front. I’m almost beginning to wonder if this isn’t going to be a grudge match between the French and the Americans.

If you haven’t been watching, you can see videos and pictures and news on the Outdoor Life Network (who, by the way, is showing the tour on TV) and the Bicycling magazine website.

While we’re discussing the future of America in pro cycling, I should remind you that the Tour of Utah is coming up August 7-12. What? You never heard of it? Me either! Regardless, Stage 6 is supposedly going to be the most difficult stage in any cycling race anywhere in the world. If it goes well, especially in light of the drama of le Tour (i.e. the constant doping scandals) souring any enjoyment one can derive from it, we might have ourselves an exciting pro-level cycling race on our own soil.

Want to be there? Try the essay contest to win a trip. If you’re there for the last stage, there’s also an opportunity to try the final climb yourself. Hey, if you can’t make it to L’Alpe d’Huez (which, by the way, you have to be able to pronounce to be eligible to enter the contest), at least you can do the Snowbird.