Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Flawed Men of Steel

Alberto Contador crashed out of the Tour de France last night. The convicted doper, two time winner and hot favourite for this year's title was fetching power bars from his back pocket when he apparently hit a pothole, lost his grip on the handlebars and hit the bitumen at speed. He rolled/slid for 70 metres. He was patched up by the side of road. He looked not unlike a victim of a bomb blast, face and torso lathered with the detritus from the wet road, blood flowing from a deep would on his knee, jersey shredded and torn. He mounted a spare bike and continued on, gingerly at first. An armada of teammates fell back to assist their faltering leader. His pace lifted as he clung to the wheels of his would-be saviours. He was four minutes behind the main bunch. The champion's heart kept beating but the flame of defiance burnt but briefly. After ten kilometres he climbed off, bowed and beaten. Alberto Contador had fractured his tibia and for him the Tour was over.

 Alberto Contador has never been my favourite cyclist. I like his style to an extent but he has been banned from the sport in the past for doping and one feels the known facts of his infraction on that occasion may be but the tip of the iceberg in regard to illicit practices'. His shadow remains a suffocating burden on a sport that, despite it's obvious popularity is still looking for a modicum of respect after the scandal of the Armstrong years. But last night my stone heart may have cracked, just a little. Alberto Contador showed what being a champion was about. What never giving up should look like. Bowing out a winner even though he was far behind. Defeat wasn't an option until it hit him square in the face. He showed how a champion sportsman should appear. He respected the race, himself and his team. He tried to continue on when in reality he probably knew he couldn't. Chapeau, Alberto!

 Give me the Tour de France and it's flawed men of steel any day. That is the way I like my sport and why I can't turn away from the Kings of the Road.No crimping, diving soccer prima-donnas for me. Let Germany bask in it's World Cup glory but I'll take the French bike race thankyou.

 There are plenty who won't understand and there is no need for them to do so. Bike racing runs deep in my blood and can't be eviscerated. Cycling brings out the best and worst in it's athletes but it can weave magic and soak in  majesty and beauty for those who take the time to watch and learn and have the depth of character to appreciate what great sport can be.

 Alberto Contador lost the Tour de France last night. But he showed the world that courage lurks behind the dark shades of the sport in which he excels. And a shaft of light may have appeared through the blinds of my own prejudice against him. Good luck Alberto. I hope there are many more triumphs awaiting you.

 Have a nice day.


  1. Comes off the bike after getting the munchies? Just saying...

    1. Well, he did pick the wrong moment to have snack I guess.