Lance Armstrong moved to second place in the Tour de France this weekend, but fell almost two minutes behind his teammate, Alberto Contador. Oh, the indignity of the wingman, fighting for scraps as his "partner" reaps all the glory.
Barring an unforeseen "accident," Contador is in the driver's seat and in great shape to win the Tour next week. Meanwhile, Lance Armstrong has been laid low with painful reminders of his own mortality. After two weeks of posturing and feints and impassioned Tweets, Sunday's Stage 16 sealed the deal. Late in a day of tough mountain climbing, Contador made a break for the finish line and Armstrong could not follow.
I suppose I should lay off a bit and give the man credit for admitting what few other elite athletes are able to—he is not the best anymore. He was beaten soundly on Sunday and because of the odd team/individual nature of the sport, Lance was forced to confess in front of God and Jeremy Schaap that Contador was the man now, and he was merely his supporting cast. Lance will swallow his pride and do his best to help Alberto get his second tour victory. Then he will finish second—okay, after three years off, that's pretty good—and ride off into a sunset of nubile movie stars and rock star orgies. I mean ... being a family man and growing old with Robin Williams. Not a bad deal.
The real winner in all this? Kazakhstan, the Stone Age autocratic backwater that sponsors Contador and Armstrong's Team Astana. Doesn't this inspiring story make you want to move Kazakhstan now?