First there was PMD (post mountains depression) now there is PTD(post Tour depression). To be honest, for most of my fellow journalists it is about time this three week rolling circus ends. The final week in the press room is like a funeral wake with all the scribes just about done in by long drives to their hotels, trying to interview the riders, Cadel was especially tough for some reason known only to Cadel, and writing endless stories. By my count, at any one time, there were only about ten Americans in the press room following the Tour which is way down from the hordes which descended on France during the Lance years.
Also, the crowds along the roads seemed less than in past years. It was most noticeable on the mountain stages though the Alpe did not disappoint. All in all, I would say that the Tour is in limbo. The organizers and the teams, for that matter, need to really get a handle on the doping problem. This year, ASO, the organization which runs the Tour, picked all the teams unlike in the past few years when they took all the teams (save Unibet) who were in the UCI's Pro Tour. So, ASO had to answer for any teams which had doping problems in 2008.
Because any negative publicity would have reflected directly back on ASO, they were not as heavy-handed as last year. That is a bad thing as the teams need to get the message that doping is a not tolerated. ASO should have tossed all the teams with a positive result like they did last year, but again, it would have reflected negatively on their selection criteria so they didn't.
Both the UCI and ASO need to start requiring valid, up-to-date biological passports for participation in their races. Only if this requirement is made will the teams follow the lead of Team Garmin-Chipotle, Team Columbia, Team CSC Saxo Bank and Team Astana and pay for an out-of-competition anti-doping program such as Agence for Cycling Ethics(ACE) or Damsgaard.
On a positive note, both American teams, Garmin-Chipotle and Columbia, rode exceptionally well and exceeded everyone's expectations. Here's hoping they can continue their successes. It would be nice for Team Columbia to hire a few more American riders, but head honcho Bob Stapleton has said that he will continue to sign the best racers regardless of what it says in their passport. To be fair, he has given a chance to two US up-and-comers John Devine and Craig Lewis, but there are a few other US-based Americans who could be riding in the European pro peloton such as John Murphy of the soon-to-be-defunct HealthNet-Maxxis squad.
In the next few days I will be rolling out my 2008 Tour de France awards, here is an example.
Rider Who Needed a Plan B - Cadel Evans. He who lives by the time trial dies by the time trial.
I am hoping that you all can come up with a few of your favorites so put those thinking caps on and sharpen up your funny bone, you have been warned.