Posts Tagged ‘Tour de France’

Like many others, this is how I will choose to remember Lance Armstrong.

Like many others, this is how I will choose to remember Lance Armstrong.

Like everyone else, I have watched the train wreck that is Lance Armstrong’s last 18 months with horrified fascination and deep sadness.

First of all, let us hope that this doesn’t result in cycling being dropped off the map of world sports, for example at the Olympics. I think the dope testing regime in cycling now is so strict that the sport is probably as clean as it or any other sport is ever going to get.

What is interesting in this story (as told to Oprah Winfrey) is Armstrong’s insistence that he didn’t feel like he was cheating: he took growth hormone and so on to ensure a level playing field, implying everyone was taking it at the same time. Many of those guys are still racing … hmmm. Something may have to be done about that.

An event like no other on Earth, Le Tour enthralls, amazes, and entertains. Let us hope it emerges stronger, not weakened forever.

I really enjoy watching the Le Tour especially, and with what is asked of those guys it hardly seems credible that they don’t do something out of the ordinary to boost their oxygen carrying red blood cells.

And the list of what’s banned and what isn’t always strikes me as somewhat arbitrary.

Why is it – morally – OK to get a massage that gets extra oxygen to the weary muscle tissue but not to take a pill that has the same effect?

I am not making a judgement either way, I just find the whole controversy fascinating and confusing.

I also think the wilder criticism of Armstrong should be tempered by the fact that he is responsible for founding and promoting one of the biggest and most effective cancer charities in the world.

When the balance of his life is weighed, I suspect that will be his legacy, not this embarrassing and sorrowful end to his amazing career.

I wouldn't walk down it, let alone drive, let alone cycle down it at 80+ mph. No thank you. Nu-uh.

I wouldn’t walk down it, let alone drive, let alone cycle down it at 80+ mph. No thank you. Nu-uh.

Let us also say, it is highly unlikely that his doping enabled him to be as good as he was. Perhaps it enabled him to be a little better, or stay at the top a little longer.

But anyone who ever watched his steely determination in whatever terrain type in the Tour de France will know: he was a champion anyway.

He didn’t used to beat the other cyclists, he destroyed their determination to compete, he was all-conquering, he was the best that perhaps there ever was. Even Armstrong himself seems to understand this belatedly, with comments like “I didn’t know what I had”.

What a shame it all got ruined through a dreadful lapse in judgement. He has paid a high price. So has his sport.

Qantas's famous aboriginal art-style plane

Not in the Top 10? Trouble for the Flying Kangaroo.

Qantas is not even in the world’s Top Ten airlines for safety according to this body … despite never having lost a passenger, as pointed out so amusingly in Rain Man. Not even the safest in Asia. (Anyone who’s ever flown on most Asian airlines, if you’ll forgive that tortuous sentence construction, will raise an eyebrow at that.)

Anyway, does this lend weight to unions’ concerns that Qantas is not what it used to be? What do you think?

Perhaps the planes have too much paint on them?

One thing I have never understood: why does Qantas not promote itself by sponsoring an international cycling team, headed by Cadel Evans, taking part in the world cycling circuit including Le Tour de France. Seems like a lay down misere to me*. I would have thought, despite the obvious investment, they’d get a hell of a lot more value out of that, worldwide, than their relationship with the Wallabies and the Socceroos, much as I applaud those sponsorships. After all, it is their international business which is leaking money; presumably, partly, through lack of effective promotion overseas.

Am I wrong? Am I missing something? Hundreds of millions of people around the world follow cycling, especially the Tour, and Australia produces some of the world’s best cyclists. Seems like Blind Freddie could see the argument, but then Qantas doesn’t exactly strike one as a very innovative or well-run business sometimes … perhaps that’s harsh … I like their Frequent Flier programme, and the way they run it, their phone support is usually very good and courteous, and their website is excellent. But they just come over as bureaucratic, lumbering and boring. Do you agree?

*The phrase “a lay down mesere” means that something is blindingly obvious or a certainty to happen, and is common in Australia/New Zealand slang. e.g. “This election is a lay-down mesere for the Groovy Party”. Its origins are in the card game “500”. In normal play the idea is to win a number of tricks bid (or more). But if a player has a very poor hand, they can opt to bid to lose every trick in the hand (“mesere” bid), and further if they lay their cards on the table it is an “open mesere” or “lay down mesere”, and often carries enough points that the game can be won in a single hand.