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Vaughters’ view: Don’t mourn, keep cheering

I guess the anti-American sentiment of French roads finally came to a head, erasing the top-10-finish dreams of Tyler Hamilton and Levi Leipheimer in the Tour’s infamous and dangerous first week. I, of all people, can feel for Tyler and Levi, although I was never a top-10 contender like they were. Tyler has had some good wins, and should be proud of his season no matter what he does the rest of the year. Levi, however, risked everything to bring his form to a head for the Tour, and had it all taken away in an instant. It's funny, because they probably haven't been in a crash all year; I

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By Jonathan Vaughters

I guess the anti-American sentiment of French roads finally came to a head, erasing the top-10-finish dreams of Tyler Hamilton and Levi Leipheimer in the Tour’s infamous and dangerous first week.

I, of all people, can feel for Tyler and Levi, although I was never a top-10 contender like they were. Tyler has had some good wins, and should be proud of his season no matter what he does the rest of the year. Levi, however, risked everything to bring his form to a head for the Tour, and had it all taken away in an instant.

It’s funny, because they probably haven’t been in a crash all year; I never was. They’ve managed to stay out of trouble through many a dangerous race, and should be considered lucky in a sport as dangerous as cycling.

But instead, the world feels sorry for them, because their misfortune was just presented to millions of people on TV. It is not unlucky to crash in the Tour – it is very fortuitous to make it through without crashing.

Despite being professionals and experienced bike riders, it seems most riders will risk everything for a result in a big race. You could put the first week of the Tour on huge highways with no turns at all, and still there would be crashes. Pro riders in today’s world are warriors, not athletes, and treat the final kilometers of each race as a war. The speed and fight for the front are so intense and tight, the smallest of errors will cause a mishap like the pileup in stage 1.

A win means a good contract, and in today’s cycling that is worth much more than in the past. This leads to more tension, and more fighting for the wheels. Simply put, the mercenary willing to risk all will win. And everyone will take the risk.

It’s sad, but it is the sport, as Tyler and Levi will both tell you. So, don’t feel sorry for them, just keep being their fans, and the next time they win a big race, be happy that on that day, they were lucky.