After you've digested the sad news that Ali has posted below, take a little deeper drink of cycling journalism with this story from Sports Illustrated's Alexander Wolff. Better than most of SI's (admittedly spotty) cycling coverage, the story attempts to parse the different relationships that the publics of Europe and the United States have to professional cycling. One of the better quotes:
Sunday, July 12, 2009
"Are you, gentle American reader, prepared to be baptized into the reality of European pro cycling? Are you ready to go from Cutter to continental, to travel the path that Dave Stohler did in Breaking Away when that Team Cinzano rider jammed a frame pipe into his wheel?"
The story inevitably turns to doping, but rather than trying to condemn the sport's use of banned substances, it does a decent job trying to understand what it is about the European cycling community and its fans that allows for such widespread doping. The story is too short to fully contextualize doping or offer more than a thumbnail sketch of the use of banned substances in the last twenty years, but it does a good job of trying to explain not just the what? but also the why? of the culture.
Take some time to read the whole thing; after all, Monday's a rest day.