It’s no secret that American cycling has suffered like a dog under the relentless allegations brought to light by the US Anti-Doping Agency, an organization hell bent on seeking due punishment for cyclists who used performance enhancing drugs to better their careers. Spurred by thorough investigatory tactics and irrefutable evidence, countless US cyclists confessed to using PEDs throughout a whole slew of events, from the Tour de France to the Olympics, all typically in the years prior to 2007. The coup de grace came when once-hero Lance Armstrong, whose seemingly untouchable seven Tour de France titles were a symbol of inspiration to millions of Americans, finally threw in the towel and confirmed what countless skeptics had ranted on for over a decade.
As the dust settled, many brilliant careers were cut short or put on suspension, forever casting them as bad men amidst an even worse culture. Regardless of the validity surrounding these judgments, the sport has continued to pedal on, yet where does this leave American cycling, both for the fan and the rider?
America’s Greatest Race. This title, aptly given to the Amgen Tour of California, describes in three words one of the nation’s most prestigious and successful sporting events, with roughly 750 miles of beautiful terrain. The route, which started in Escondido and finished in Santa Rosa, acted as stadium last week as 16 professional teams from around the globe squeezed every last drop of energy into eight days of battle between man, bike and road.
The Amgen ToC has solidified its reputation as the nation’s most triumphant bike race, offering a hearty platform for domestic athletes to showcase their talents to a large audience. Despite the fallout from Lance and his syringe-prone US Postal teammates, this year’s edition saw American riders shake off the naysayers and cynics, eventually leading to a first place overall victory by 24-year-old Washington native Tejay van Garderen, as well as a stage win by Tyler Farrar of Garmin-Sharp.