Je Couer Du Tour

From here to eternity.

That’s where it takes me….

I have been a dedicated armchair sports fan since we got TV at home, circa 1985. Cricket. Hockey. Track and Field. Swimming. Gymnastics. Tennis. Golf. Football.Channel 9’s coverage of the Tri Series from Down Under. Wimbledon. The Olympics. EPL. Serie A. The Open. Havent been there, but have seen them all. But. But. But. Nothing gets me going like LeTour.

There are sports. And then there is the TDF. Time and again I have been asked why am I crazy about the Tour de France. Why? Oh Why?

My love affair with the event began in 2004. I would come back from a run in the evening and just sit back and watch, with my 20 month old younger son in tow. A few more summers passed, until 1 day, I was unable to jog anymore. Ilio Tibial Band Syndrome had struck me. And my physio recommended cycling.

That’s when TDF and I hit 2ndbase. The show off in me ordered a yellow jersey online. And l’affaire cycling grew stronger and stronger. I cycled, and watched Lance Armstrong win 7 in a row and then be shamed for doping. I celebrated that and then hated him. He had cheated on the only sports event that has a whole music album dedicated to it – called, what else, but Tour de France by those masters of electronica from the 1980s – Kraftwerk.

Where else do you see men ride a bicycle for about 200 kms everyday, for 21 days at speeds ranging from 40-45 kms per hour in the mountains to over 70 kms per hour over flats. Dust roads. Cobbled stones. 35+ degree inclines. Downhills. Sharp curves. The Pyrenees and the Alps. A different European country every year. The hairpin bends of Lacets de Montvernier. The celebratory ceremonial rounds of Champs Elysee. The podium finish in the shadows of the Eiffel. The sunflowers. The vineyards. The snow. The scenic routes. I can almost hear Richie Benaud commentating and saying – its all happening here.

Where else do we see the peloton like this? The breakaways? The sprints? The chases. Those last reserves of power as each rider fights the war within himself to battle it out for a stage win? I have seen it all. Motivation. Hope. Despair. Inspiration. Shattered Dreams. Inhuman Effort. Speed. Strategy. Team Play. Individual Ambition. Goals. Overcoming the body. And the mind. You name it, it’s there. ON A CONTINUOUS BASIS. Day after day. Km after Km. For 21 days on the trot.

To put it mathematically, TDF > @sum(all sports).

We still have the final week to play out of the event that began in 1903 as an advertising gimmick to sell a sports newspaper called L’Auto.

Go on. Do it. Watch some stage finishes. Listen to the commentary on TV. Will Geraint Thomas retain the yellow and win it? Will Peter Sagan, Mark Cavendish (he of those orange shoes, a la moi), Nairo Quintana, Tom Dumoulin or Jean Alainphillipe make a dash for the yellow? Or will the under doping suspicion Chris Froome be at it again?

Keep freewheelin’ and find out.

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