Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team is the only team bringing Americans to the Tour de France (which is why we’ve adopted the hashtag #AmericasTeam for the month of July). Two of them, Taylor Phinney and Nate Brown, are making their debut in cycling’s marquee event. Phinney’s story to reach the start line in Düsseldorf is a remarkable one and is written up beautifully by the New York Times.
When the Tour de France begins on Saturday, with riders zipping along the banks of the Rhine, their heads down and their legs churning, you’ll have to pay close attention to spot the Americans in the field of nearly 200. Very close.
That’s because only three of them are competing in the Tour this year, a total that continues a trend. Last year, five Americans raced. In 2015, it was three. Not since 1996, before Lance Armstrong began his improbable run of success, has the number crept so close to zero.
It’s a dramatic turn for a sport that once produced prime-time highlights in the United States, thanks to Armstrong and others who turned a European passion into one Americans could embrace. But now professional cycling is fighting to maintain relevancy in a packed sports market — thanks, at least partly, to Armstrong and his era of doping cheats.
There is an upside: If the United States has only three riders at the Tour, it’s good that Taylor Phinney is one of them. The story of how he finally ended up on the starting line in Düsseldorf, Germany, this weekend after more than a decade of dreaming of racing the Tour is rich.
Continue reading in the NY Times.