Lance Armstrong took over the yellow leader's jersey yesterday on the stiff climb up L'Alpe de Huez. The guy's going for his fifth consecutive title. That just blows me away. To be able to stay at the top of the heap in one of the most demanding athletic competitions in the world for 5 straight years, (never mind coming back from cancer) is extraordinary to me. And today's accident just goes to show how even more impressive it is, given all the uncontrollable elements there are in bike racing. (He had to ride through a field after swerving of the road during a high-speed descent to avoid hitting a crashed rider.)
Back in the 70's & early 80's, I knew all the top riders by sight, and photographed many of them when they were racing in Ontario & I could get to the event. I have a terrific shot of Canada's Steve Bauer riding against World Hour record holder & World Champion Francesco Moser at the Toronto Grand Prix.
In 1974, my father took me to Montreal to watch the World Championships Road Race in person. I got to see the extraordinary Eddie Merckx in his heydey. (He was the World Hour record holder at the time and won the race). He was an absolute beast on the bike - nicknamed the Cannibal. My dad even got me into the racers' training facility at the University. Man, could those guys eat! Now, just like with hockey, I don't even know the names of the teams anymore, nevermind the faces of the stars.
The World Championships are coming back to Canada - to my old hometown of Hamilton Ontario - in October. My dad still lives near there, and I really want to get back to Ontario for a visit soon, so I'm thinking of maybe trying to get home for Thanksgiving and take him to see some of the Worlds too. Time will tell. But I'll sure have to brush up on some names first!