Chris Pummer and I took on the Armstrong v. Contador Tour de France controversy in this week’s Perpetual Post.
My side is here:
Is it too much to ask for heroic and world-class athletes to spend three weeks participating in one of the most grueling races in the world without behaving as though they are appearing in an episode of Dynasty? One almost expects Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador to scratch each other’s eyes out, throw drinks in each other’s faces, and tumble down a spiral staircase in silken dressing gowns as the finale. (Actually, I would totally love that).
But really, Contador. Do you want to go down in history as “The Man Who Won The 2009 Tour de France”? Because the way you talk, you’re fast becoming “The Man Who Won The 2009 Tour de France, No Thanks To That Jerk Lance Armstrong, Seriously What Is With That Guy Anyway?” If that’s the way you’d like it to go down, so be it. But I would think you’d want to keep a little more of that sweet, sweet Tour-Winning publicity to yourself. Every time interviewers ask you about your experiences and you bring Armstrong into the picture, it takes the focus off of you.
Why not talk about how it felt to finally win? Mention your adoring fans and how their support meant everything to you. Discuss the steamy naked SmartWater billboard you’re in talks to shoot or the amusing cooking segment you just did on Good Morning America. Talk about anything but your overblown rivalry with Lance Armstrong. You know he’s just going to retort with a scathing Tweet!
Granted, both of you have great super-villain names. When you talk about each other, I picture each of you standing on a mountaintop in a thunderstorm shaking a fist skyward and howling:
But even that image is not amusing enough to stop me from losing patience with your childish antics. I may be a layman, but even I grasp that the Tour de France is a race in which each team of riders are supposed to work together toward the common goal of helping one of their own win. In this most recent race, Armstrong and Contador, on the same team, fought neck in neck for much of the time, jostling each other for the winning position and trying to take control of the race. How confusing this must have been for everyone involved; how frustrating for the other team members. That bad energy, coupled with the alleged sniping between the two champion riders throughout the race, must have made this Tour de France really, really, extra…hard.
See, that’s the thing. The Tour de France is HARD. Even when all of the teammates are working in tandem like a well-oiled, leg-muscled machine, they’re still biking umpteen miles through France, Spain and Italy, day after day for 3 weeks straight. This race is already one of the hardest competitions in the world. As someone who is winded and calls it a day after twenty minutes on a stationary bike, I am mentally incapable of imagining how hard the Tour de France has got to be even on a good day. So if you’re starting with an impossibly hard race, which everyone knows is impossibly hard to begin with, and you complain to the media that there was something going on that made it even HARDER this time, do you look like a hero? No. You look like a whiner.
So it was hard? Harder than you expected? A little more competitive than you’d bargained for? Of course it was hard! Of course it was competitive! It’s a competition! It’s not the Tour de Friendship and Holding Hands!
But suck it up! You won! Do a little dance! Loosen up, pull the bike seat out of your ass! Go hang out with Michael Phelps, if you know what I mean. The very notion of winning the Tour de France—for most people, it’s impossible to do. For Alberto Contador, it was just impossible to do gracefully.