Thursday, February 28, 2008

Should this be allowed?

I was reading this article and was this fair? Where I was not a "pro" swimmer I did swim NCAA Div. I so that is what I'd call semi-pro. (I consider the Olympics "pro".) He wasn't a pro triathlete but his cycling was at the pro level. What if Lance Armstrong, Khalid K. or Paula Radcliffe decided to ante up to Ironman? Just like when "old" pro triathletes "retire" only to terrorize the age group ranks for years; technically, they aren't pro anymore. There is no "former pro" division and if you want to race...well, its age group. Personally, I want to race against the top talent in my age group - pro or not - yet, something in that still seems wrong. So when we are trying to solve the ravages of doping in our sport, family portraits at the finish line (still just waiting for the first injury to a child and impending lawsuit) add...former pros and what we do. Is the best solution is to do nothing?

Personally, I think it should be age divisions for men and women but there should be consistency across the groups. Five world championship slots for all divisions. Case in point, my friend and teammate Laura Perez was 5th in her AG at Ironman Wisconsin. No Kona slot. WTF? She hammered all but four gals in her AG and can't book a trip to the big dance? That's messed up.

So is this...

Ironman France will take place on 22 June 2008 and could be one of the largest Ironman events in history with 2,700 registered athletes. Former cycling star Laurent Jalabert is included in the field, competing in his third Ironman."I am of course happy to participate in Ironman France," Jalabert says. "Very happy, actually, and also very motivated for this new challenge." He competed at Ironman Switzerland last year and qualified for the Ford Ironman World Championship in Kona in October.

Jalabert is the most decorated cyclist to ever give the Ironman challenge a try. He has won Paris-Nice three times, four stages of the Tour de France, three stages at the Giro d’Italia and 18 stages at the Vuelta – plus the World Time Trial Championships in 1997. He will profit from the experience gained at his two former Ironman events. He finished 41st in Switzerland with a final time of 9:24:29, which included a 12-minute penalty. He improved his time in Kona, finishing in 76th position with 9:19:58! He exited the water in 1143rd position, then rode to a 4 hours and 37 minutes cycling split. He had the fastest cycling time in his age group (DUH!), the 26th best of the day, and passed more than 1,000 competitors during the bike leg of the race. In Nice it is expected that he will progress even more. He has already proven that he has the capacities to handle the volume of an Ironman triathlon. And with the support from the locals, who know him well having won the Paris – Nice cycling race three times, Jalabert has the potential to do a brilliant race. In only three years Ironman France succeeded in attracting a record number of athletes. The entries had to be closed five months ahead of the race. With an expected 2,500 triathletes on the starting line on race day, no other race in Europe welcomes more athletes than Ironman France.

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