**This post contains spoilers for Tour de France Stage 15**.
Now that I have my very own bicycle (have yet to ride it), I'm trying to motivate myself by watching the Tour de France on OLN (Outdoor Life Network). I especially like Bob Roll's informative commentary. Bob does a great job of explaining race rules, strategy, bike mechanics etc. It's perfect for newbies like me.
Hubby messaged me this afternoon, "Lance was taken down by a spectator". No! I told him not to tell me what happened afterwards and I waited to watch Stage 15 on our trusty TiVo. TiVo is EXCELLENT for watching sports - you can zoom through commercials and less interesting parts, allowing us to watch the 2 hour Tour programming (with the woefully indadequate description of "Bicycle Race" on the TV guide) in 45 min-1 hour.
We fast forwarded a good chunk of the race until we saw the part where Lance was indeed taken down by a spectator. I'm not surprised. Every time I watch the Tour, I'm horrified at how close some of the spectators get to the riders. A lot of them actually run onto the road waving flags and banners. I know they're trying to be supportive, but it looks dangerous.
My stomach was in knots when I saw Lance fall. And it lurched again moments later when his foot slipped out of his pedal as he was trying to catch up to the front of the pack. As impressed I was with Lance's recovery and ultimate stage win, I was most touched by the fact that the pack WAITED FOR HIM TO CATCH UP after he fell. They even showed the segment where Tyler Hamilton (my personal hero) signaled the leaders of the pack to slow down and wait for Lance. Even 2nd place cyclist Jan Ullrich [German website] "the big man from Germany" waited, even though he could have easily sped on ahead to victory.
I've come to appreciate the sportsmanship in professional cycling that I have never witnessed before anywhere else. In any other sport, a fallen participant would probably get a swift kick in the head by a fellow competitor to make sure he/she would stay down. In professional cycling, however, you're not supposed to take advantage of another rider's misfortune or mechanical difficulties; you win based on your own merit. What class. This is truly a gentlemen's sport.