For almost any red-blooded American male, the choice between discussing cycling or the end to months of financial wrangling over about $1 billion of the outrageous money heaped on the table for NFL owners and players to whack up would be an easy choice. My hard core perspective is that the local gridiron crew is the Carolina Panthers, recently judged 82nd most supportable team in professional sports (and probably a couple notches lower in reality). Sorry, the world's most celebrated bike race definitely gets the "arms raised in victory while wearing le maillot jaune" in that case.
This 98th edition of the Tour definitely had its greatest race in longer than most lovers of the event would care to recall. Thankfully, only a single rider was tossed for doping, and the finale (sans the leisurely victory ride into Paris that the last day usually is) came down to a test of speed and cajones, with mumbled apologies about the relative use of that particularly appropriate Spanish term when two brothers from Luxemborg and an Australian were involved in such a manly duel.
There was a good bit of favorable news for almost everyone who cared regarding the Tour. The French were kissing lots of cheeks during the run of countryman Thomas Voeckler, who held first place for all of ten days. The Brits were more than a little cheered by having Mark Cavendish win five stages along the way, including putting his wheel across first on Sunday, and taking the green jersey home, given to the best sprinter (there are also jerseys given to the best climbers and top rookie).
For most though, the ultimate treat was the anticipation of Saturday's time trial, with brothers Andy and Frank Schleck holding a small lead (:57) over Aussie Cadel Evans. The major challenge would be whether the brothers, noted climbers who took the top spots by attacking in the Alpe d'Huez stage, could keep the lead against the superior sprinter on Saturday. With all credit due for the profound manner they handled that 19th stage and its "out of category" (meaning its 31 climbs were so long and steep their combined difficulty went beyond measuring any single part), Evans blew Andy up on the flats, essentially winning by 1 minute, 34 seconds. Schleck declined to get splits or time lost/ahead information from his support while Evans chased him, something many claimed was a tactical error, but was probably more along the lines of Heisman winner Cam Newton not being interested in hearing how many times he's going to be sacked in Charlotte this year. You KNOW the hammer is coming, you just gotta suck it up and do what you can.
So the Tour is over in glorious fashion, and as soon as the (grateful) players ratify the new labor contract, training camps will open across America. For the many hopeful domestiques, those undrafted or less star-quality players who are involved in the team building process like the cyclists who make up the majority of any peleton (group or line of riders) in the Tour, may a job doing what you've strived so long to accomplish become a reality.
For Cadel Evans, todays Reality beats anything the NFL can possibly serve up.