I managed to be home from dinner in time to catch the last 45 minutes or so of the final stage of the Tour de France (as usual, there was not much chance of me watching it live, seeing as how it started at 6:30 in the morning Texas time, so the prime-time coverage would have to do). THere was no real mystery as to who the winner would be, as the final Sunday ride along the Champs-Élysées is strictly a ceremonial ride (they sip champagne along the way, for crying out loud), though the sprinters have fun with it at the very end. Great Britain's Mark Cavendish, acknowledged as "the fastest man in cycling" by pretty much everyone around (including himself, in some interviews I saw; don't get cocky, kid!) took the stage, but it was Alberto Contador of Spain taking the yellow jersey all the way into Paris. Luxembourg's Andy Schleck was second on the podium, and Contador's teammate, Lance Armstrong, was third--really not a bad ride considering 1) he's 37; 2) he's been away from the sport for 3 1/2 years; 3) he broke his collarbone in a race earlier in the season.
And it appears that Lance isn't done; he's already committed to next year's Tour, and he'll be doing so on a new team sponsored by Radio Shack. He's likely to take teammate Levi Leipheimer with him, and it would be a coup if he could somehow bring team director Johan Brunyeel with him, though I have no idea if that's a possibility. As someone who was brought into cycling fandom by Lance (who grew up just a few blocks from the college where I teach), it's great to see him back for a little while longer.
It's been a great three weeks, even if I had to miss a lot of the middle week because of my out-of-town trip (I pause to metaphorically shake my fist at the hotel where I stayed for not having Versus on its cable menu). I'll miss the daily updates, the beautiful European scenery, and the mellifluous tones of Phil and Paul at the end of every stage (but since I now follow both Lance and Phil on Twitter, I may be able to watch some other races that I might not have otherwise known about).
In the meantime, the Cowboys start training camp soon, and the Rangers are twelve games above .500 as of tonight. Oh, and I have more than a bit of saxophone to play. There'll be no shortage of things to do for the rest of the summer. Still, the Tour was a welcome diversion, and I'll look forward to its next run.