At the start of this Tour de France, Lance Armstrong was the clear favorite. But Jan Ullrich is breathing down his neck, just 15 seconds back after 13 stages. There’s a lot of racing to be done before a winner is crowned in Paris, but I think that it is interesting just how quickly cracks can appear in the Tour de France.
We’ve seen it before. Miguel Indurain was favored to win a 6th consecutive tour in 1996, only to finish 11th. Big Mig turned 32 during the ‘96 tour – Lance turns 32 this September. The conventional wisdom is that skill and guile allow athletes to compensate for the loss of physical ability in the early 30’s. But perhaps the sheer physicality required by the tour trumps conventional wisdom.