The instances of doping in the Tour de France have dropped steadily since the media focused on stripping Lance Armstrong of his seven consecutive tour wins. There are those that say the tour has run clean since 2012, and maybe that is true, but with so many tell-all books coming out in the last few years, 2014 could be the year that close to 100% of the tour riders are clean.
Book Review: Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever
Book Review: The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France
I don’t really want to debate how clean the tour is now, rather I would like to revel in the fact that a long drought of clean racing may be finally ending.
In my estimation, it was the streak of Miguel Indurain‘s five consecutive titles that signaled the true start of the doping era. It is not lost on me that Indurain’s cheating cost American Greg LeMond what could have been at least one more title. He was and in my opinion, still is the greatest American to ride in the Tour de France.
So who to root for?
While this is touted as a tour to feature the mountain climbers… the first racer that comes to mind is the fun and always exciting, Peter Sagan. He should win the sprinters jersey three years in a row and his finish line showboating is always fun. At just 24, he has years of solid sprinting ahead of him.
There is a lot of talk about Alberto Contador riding clean again and looking very strong. I lost respect for him as a cheater and thus won’t be pulling for him.
Chris Froome is probably the favorite to win after his performance last year and victory this year in the Tour of Oman, but a back injury (although apparently healed) could cause trouble.
The ‘Shark from Messina,’ Vincenzo Nibali is slated to be a top three finisher and has matured to where he could surprise folks by grabbing the top spot. His descending skill rivals anyone in the race and the 2014 running of the Le Tour has a lot of that.
American, Tejay Van Garderen from the Garmin team hasn’t shown that he is a title contender, but should be a top ten finisher if he isn’t forced to abandon like last year. I am also pulling for Chris Horner to do well.
After not watching a lick of the tour last year (for the first time in 30 years) because of my distaste for all the cheating, I am back and really looking forward to my favorite endurance sporting event. Keep your fingers crossed that nobody invented some new type of doping.