The professional cycling season stretches from January to October, across every continent, but only one race achieves any kind of crossover into the mainstream sports world. The Tour de France, which starts this weekend at Mont Saint-Michel, accounts for over 80 percent of the annual TV exposure for teams involved, and it’s the only race that Americans really watch (if only for the scenery). This year, Nairo Quintana, Alberto Contador, and a bunch of other insect-skinny dudes will line up to try and take down defending champion Chris Froome. Meanwhile, the French government will be doing everything in its power to make sure its signature race is not tainted by the strange, ineradicable specter of motorized doping.
A refresher: Rumors that professional cyclists had been housing tiny motors in their bicycles have been buzzing around the peloton for six years. Whenever cycling officials tried to look into them, the cycling world laughed at them for chasing ghosts, until January, when they caught a Belgian woman using one at the cyclocross world championships.