Yogi Berra states it best with those six words. Now I haven't been the best cyclist, so wins for me are few and far between. However, I cannot stand it when I see a race lost, all because someone celebrated too early. It has happened to amateurs, it has happened to pros (even in the Tour). Sure, you may want to throw your arms up in the air crossing the line, but have you ever actually considered the point of that? Does it make much of a difference starting to raise your arms after the line?
I am mentioning this tonight because of Lindsey Jacobellis. This snowboardcross racer was one of four women to make it to the finals in the Olympics, a dream many people have, but not many achieve. After some bumping between competitors behind her, she basically clinched a gold medal. However, extremely close to the finish line, and an OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL, she decides to grab her board on a jump (mainly to show off), and ends up losing her balance when she hits the ground. Instead of standing on the top block in Torino, having a gold medal hanging around her neck, watching the American flag fly, and listening to the American National Anthem...she must instead watch Tanja Frieden of Switzerland savor the glory.
The main moral of this story? Just because it looks like you may have a win clinched, and may want to show off to the crowd, do not take it for granted. Things can change in the blink of an eye. A bunch of sites have a video from some race in a French-speaking area. A cyclist rounds the last turn, and looks over his shoulder to see second place a good distance behind him. He raises his arms in triumph, but his bicycle hits the center line of the road (which because of the rain is slick). He crashes hard and is able to get back on the bike before second place catches up. He pushes down as hard as he can on the pedals to get across the line...
The chain wasn't on the bike anymore.
Second place passes him just before the line, and makes guaranteed winner an unforeseen runner-up.
So after reading this, if you get the opportunity to cherish a victory, please celebrate AFTER the line. You'll save yourself much ridicule and embarrassment should something not turn out the way you expect it.