Dear Lance Armstrong,
Le Tour starts today, and I believe you can still do it. You’re never too old. And today’s course isn’t too tough – these old blokes did it on Thursday, without any of those wussy aerodynamic helmets you’ll be using. Nederlanders don’t very often win the tour. Jan Janssen (1968) and Joop Zoetemelk (1980) are the only ones who have ever done it. In 1985 Zoetemelk was world champion at the age of 38.
I’m older than you too, Lance, and I’m still riding. Yesterday I rode more than four times as far as the piddling 8.9km you’ll ride this afternoon. My time incidentally was 3hrs 37min 8.4seconds, not including coffee breaks. I did the last 5km in a hurry, even standing up on the pedals once or twice, because I needed to get to a television set before 4pm to see a football match.
I don’t know how interested you are in football, Lance, but you may have noticed that many Dutch people like the game. If you went to bed early last night, I hope you had a soundproofed room at the back of the hotel. If you had a view of a Rotterdam street, you would have heard some young Dutch people blowing orange horns.
Those instruments are called ‘vuvuzelas’ in the Dutch language. Most people in the world are already aware of them, but I know how single-minded you are about preparing for le Tour, so you may have missed them. Vuvuzelas were particularly popular yesterday, because Nederland beat Brazil and got into the semi-finals of the World Cup (a football competition currently being held in South Africa). The score was Nederland 2, Brazil 1.
The Rotterdam street cleaners would have been following the game too, so the Tour route may not be as clean as was originally intended. Sorry about that. While you’re riding today, watch out for stray orange balloons bobbling around the course.