Dear Lance Armstrong,
You tweeted today that this would be your last tour. I seem to remember you said that before, and it turned out not to be strictly true. Quite a few things cyclists say turn out later to be not strictly true (‘Contador/Landis/the French media and I get along fine’, ‘There could have been growth hormones in the chicken vindaloo’, ‘I have no idea how that got into my luggage’.)
But I’ll take your word for it this time, and if we don’t see you again, I’ll miss you and your witty post-race repartee. For me this will be my first Tour, so perhaps it’s an appropriate time for you to get out as the new generation moves in.
I expect you’ll be busy riding for the next three weeks, but in case you have any time for tourism, I’ll feed you some advice about sights you shouldn’t miss. I noticed that the Radio Shack team bus has dark windows so perhaps you just watch DVDs rather than admiring the scenery.
So, Day 1, Prologue, 8km time trial through Rotterdam. Rotterdam is not technically in France; it’s a couple of countries away, in the Netherlands. Someone probably told you that already. Anyway, don’t be surprised when you get out and about to hear local people speaking not francais, but Polish. Rotterdam is a multicultural sort of city.
The Destroyed City
The centre of Rotterdam was bombed flat in 1940, as punishment for Dutch resistance. This statue ‘The Destroyed City’ commemorates the event.
I don’t know if you’re interested in architecture, Lance, but Piet Blom designed these famous Rotterdam cube houses. They look great from the outside, but it’s tricky to live in one. If you don’t nail it to the wall, your furniture keeps sliding down into the bottom point.
Piet Blom's cube houses
Your prologue route takes you back and forth over the Erasmus Bridge. Desiderius Erasmus was a Dutch philosopher, probably born in Rotterdam about 1466. He wrote about cultural, ethical and religious development and his bridge has a good surface with a separate lane for cyclists. Should be a good start to the Tour. Bonne chance!
Votre ami de vélo,
PS. Lance, you probably remember that during this year’s Giro d’Italia I was supporting my Aussie compatriot Cadel Evans. Sadly, carrying the weight of my expectations in the pockets of his cycling jersey proved too much for Cadel, who finished out of the medals. I decided to give him a break for le Tour 2010 and see if it enhances his performance.