I know that the Tour has been over for a few days and I am just now getting around to writing my little summary. I'm well aware of the poor timing, but I've been busy... I swear- I can get a note from my Mom.
So Lance wins 7 after all. Who saw that coming? Taking the final TT win to close out on a high note just adds his stamp of authority on the event. What could I possibly say that hasn't already been written about Lance (maybe even better than I could- it's possible)? His 7 wins are not likely to be beaten any time in the near future. With the way the Tour has become such a specialized event with so many riders now basing their seasons on it, it is hard to imagine that any rider will ever be able to match the accomplishment. Believe me, I'm as upset about this as you are, but I don't see the record being broken during my lifetime.
Rasmussen crashes and loses oodles of time and his place on the podium in the final TT. Ullrich rides great and moves up to the final podium spot. Basso hangs on to 2nd and his second consecutive podium at the Tour. Leipheimer rode another solid top 10 and Landis finishes off in 9th, with Julich getting a solid and very respectable 17th. Horner almost steals the show on the final day, until Vinokourov nails it with a perfectly timed attack in the closing kilometers. The last few stages certainly served up an adequate ending to the event and Lance's incredible career.
It has been an incredible seven years for cycling in the US. The industry itself has really benefited from the wins Lance has had. Obviously, those wins have been kindest to the folks in Waterloo, WI, but the rest of us have been able to eat pretty well off the crumbs. Globally, the sport has flourished during these past seven years and the global cycling economy would look to be remaining healthy- even with ups and downs in the marketplace. I have a feeling that the industry will likely go through something of a slump now, with Lance leaving the sport and much of the mass media and public losing interest, but the new lows in the market will still be higher than some of the old highs. It is my belief that the industry is in better shape than it once was, even if so reliant on one pony for all the winnings.
So, Lance, you did what I could never have done. May the rest of your life, outside of competitive cycling, prove to be as rewarding as cycling was. Enjoy your time with your kids now and have one of those Shiner Bocks for me when you get back to Austin.