Lance Armstrong will not be participating in the Tour de France this year; he got word that astronomers have found traces of his lost home planet, and he's gone there to investigate. So that leaves it to the mortals to fight over the remains, and if early indications are correct, the French aren't going to be happy. Yes, it's that time again, as earth's finest sprocket-related sporting event gets underway on Saturday in several hard-to-pronounce hamlets in the European countryside. If you're going, please be mindful of marked cycling lanes and Robin Williams.
Just as a brief note, we are generally distrustful of any sport which requires skin-tight pants and a map of the Alps. But we know a lot of others dig it, especialy since an American has won it seven or 10 straight times (we lost track). And there's a good chance the U.S. streak could continue, considering that Americans swept the first four places in the time trials of the Dauphine Libere, a Tour de France warm-up. George Hincapie, the former designated sprinter on Armstrong's Discovery Channel team, is a strong bet to emerge. Anyway, if nothing else, you'll find out if you can stand two simultaneous European sporting events over the next couple of weeks.