Tour de France

Few sporting spectacles compare to the Tour de France. Towns and villages along the route, en fete for the race, shut up shop to enjoy le pique nique by the roadside. Ever-greater numbers of foreign fans have joined the party too. Saturday’s stage, finishing atop the famous Alpe d’Huez, showed this in all its crazy glory as Chris Froome was unofficially crowned the race winner with only Sunday’s largely ceremonial ride into Paris to navigate.
Froome is about to triumph over his rivals and 3,360km of road including Europe’s highest mountains, not to mention the sheer mental and physical effort of remaining on top of his game for three weeks. But he will not have succeeded in vanquishing his critics who want more data on his performance to assure themselves he did not dope. Team Sky, who Froome races for, is reluctant. However both sides are missing the real question: what will it take to restore trust in such a drug-tainted sport?

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It began in a blaze of British hubris. But three weeks later, as the Tour de France heads to the finish line on the Champs Elysees, the Brits have sunk without trace and the race has instead seen a striking renaissance of French cycling. Read more

Lance Armstrong. Photo: Getty

By Jennifer Hughes

Remember Greg LeMond? The name of the three-time Tour de France winner doesn’t resonate far outside of cycling now but as of today, he will be the only American to have won the race in US officials’ eyes.

Lance Armstrong’s decision not to contest further doping allegations levelled by anti-doping authorities means they consider him stripped of his record seven Tour titles. Armstrong’s and LeMond’s Tour-winning successor and compatriot, Floyd Landis, has already lost his 2006 win for doping. Read more

We’ve been reading about the Assad circle of power after yesterday’s events, as well as strongmen of other varieties: