2010 Tour de France: Aging in the Pyrenees
Well, on Tuesday cycling fans the world over got a bit of what they were waiting for. The aging Lance Armstrong put the old bit between his teeth and really went at it. Stage 16 at the Tour de France 2010 was scheduled for 199.5 klicks and Lance did them all. He just sat up and missed the win by a few meters to a much younger man.
Well, on Tuesday cycling fans the world over got a bit of what they were waiting for. The aging Lance Armstrong put the old bit between his teeth and really went at it. He broke away early out of the Luchon start and kept it going for nearly 200 kilometers. Stage 16 at the Tour de France 2010 was scheduled for 199.5 klicks and Lance did them all. He just sat up and missed the win by a few meters to a much younger man.
Earlier in the day, I dealt with another older man, rich with cycling talent and "panache."
George, the owner of Victory Cycles on Avenue Foch in Luchon had helped a client the previous day by providing a derailleur hanger for a very expensive Willier bicycle. The client was so appreciative that he left his traveling bike bag at Victory Cycles. I was glad to try to pick it up, but the start of the 16th stage of the 2010 Tour was going right in front of his shop at 11:30 AM. So George closed up shop and locked the gate to his parts treasure trove and went to see the cycling pros.
I doubled back after the race departure and found the shop open and busy. There was a line waiting for key parts like seat post clamps and unusual cables. George took care of them all in due order, but nobody got into the shop. He listened carefully as the customer described the problem, asked for clarification and then went off hunting for the solution and returned in three to five minutes with the exact part and solution.
It took nothing for George and I to connect. He is nearing seventy and I am closing in on sixty five and we both know and love bikes. In short order we made our alliance and stepped out to get our picture in front of the shop.
The previous day I rode back from Port de Bales with sixty-nine year old Rafael Piccolo. He is a large, barrel-chested laugher from Mexico and he can ride. We started chatting and he saw my chest scar when I had my jersey zipper open to take in the cool valley air. After I told him about my springtime medical sessions and heart repair surgery; he told my about the stents put in his ticker recently.
We both commented on how cycling was good for recovery by pushing the whole cardio system. Chatting too much we fell off the grupetto pace line a bit. I kicked it up a bit and after thirty seconds, just when I needed a short relief, Rafael came through and closed the gap at 40 kilometers an hour. Comfortably back in the pace line we resumed sharing stories. Rafael smiled big and said, "Cycling saved my life. I love riding with the younger guys like this." We both stood and hit it harder for a slight rise and when we sat back again he continued, "But I love the younger women too, but they may kill me, si?"
Today in the rain and fog on the Tourmalet, it was different. It was confirmed that cycling at this level is not for everyone, even Lance Armstrong at 37 years old. Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck showed us that cycling racing at the highest level really is a young man's game. Lance looked good, but lost more time to the young duelists.
So there you have it from the Pyrenees, lots is going on for cyclists of all ages, but the intense focus is on how the older guys settle in to this new age and still contribute. I am listening to them all, but am not sure who to follow into the next age of vintage cycling: Lance, George or Rafael?
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