10 American Cyclists Celebrate Fourth of July at Tour de France
Once again after almost 25 years, ten American cyclists are competing at this year’s Tour de France on the same day every American citizen celebrate their Independence Day, July 4.
In an interview with long time Armstrong teammate, George Hincapie, he noted that the presence of 10 U.S. cyclists at the Tour de France is an indication of how big the sport has developed in America.
“You know people are really starting to realize what a grueling sport this is,” he said, adding that the people were also beginning to respect it.
Cycling fans from the U.S. even found a bigger reason to celebrate the Fourth of July when Tyler Farrar won his first ever single Tour de France stage victory. Furthermore, he becomes the very first American rider to win a stage on the 4th of July.
Tyler Farrar, a native of Wenatchee, Washington, is a sprint expert who rides with the Garmin-Cervelo team. In an interview, he proudly said that he surely would have won on any given day.
But as an American, he added, winning on the Fourth of July was a major plus.
This Farrar is unrecognizable a couple of months earlier when he got depressed after his best friend’s death in a crash at the Giro d’Italia. But, on July 4, he certainly came out of the dark and emerged as a winner, meaningfully holding up his hands in “W” form as he cross the finish line. This victory, according to him, is his tribute to his late friend Wouter Weylandt of Belgium.
The 2011 Tour de France also happens to be the 30th year since the first American “Giant of the Roads” was named and he was Jonathan Boyer. It also marks the 25th year from the time when Greg Lemond turned out to be the first American to win the greatest race in cycling. And, it was also in 1986 when ten U.S. cyclists joined and came under two competing teams. The only difference this year is that they are riding under four different American teams namely – BMC, RadioShack, HTC-Highroad and Garmin-Cervelo.
Tejay van Garderen, 22, a cyclist from the HTC-Highroad team was not alive yet during Lemond & Co.’s shot to promote the Tour to American cycling fans. This attempt went full throttle because of Lance Armstrong’s seven wins.
BMC’s Brent Bookwalter, 27, who is just on his second year of joining the Tour even mentioned how Armstrong broke the ice for other U.S. cyclists and those who follow, like him, just need to carry on. He said that the support they got from American fans was overwhelming. He then added, “You know this event kind of transcends cycling to the sporting world in general. It means a lot to be an American here.”
For the Americans in this year’s Tour de France, no one is considered dominant like Armstrong. Horner and Leipheimer, riders from RadioShack both have dreams of finishing as one of the Top 10. However, the tides could shift if a need arises to give way to another team member who has a bigger chance to win when the competition concludes at the Champs-Elysees in Paris on the 24th of July.