Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Tour....

With my arm/hand in plaster my riding is purely vicarious at present - I'm enjoying watching The Tour de France - what a spectacle it is; the speeds they reach, particularly on the descents are scarily breathtaking - 69mph on one stage i was watching recently!!

The Tour has to be the world's greatest annual sporting event. First run in 1903 as a publicity stunt by a newspaper, and with a Paris bar as the starting point, today's Tour attracts 15 million spectators over its three week duration (in a country of 62 million), and additional hundreds of millions via TV.

Why is the Tour de France such an epic contest among the world's best athletes? There are no other sporting events where the competitors are subjected to such superhuman challenges day after day for three weeks. This year's tour covers 3,430km (2131 miles), with the longest daily stage being 226 km/140 miles. It is no exageration to compare competing in the Tour to running a marathon every day for three weeks. It is a small wonder that despite a 9,000 daily caloric consumption, the exertion rates are so high that Tour riders typically lose about 3 or 4 kg during the entire race.

This year's Tour has been marked by numerous accidents and retirements due to injury, including to several pre-race favourites. Broken collar bones, femurs and pelvises have caused riders to withdraw from the race, and crashes have been caused by spectators, camera motorbikes and even team cars.

The French are yearning for a home grown winner, and as of this writing the maillot jaune does indeed rest on the shoulders of a Frenchman, the Alsatian Thomas Voeckler. Every French newspaper heralded him as a FRENCH Tour leader.

Whoever is leading by the time they reach Paris one thing is crystal clear: if you like to see daily exhibitions of extraordinary courage, endurance, speed, stamina, heartbreak, exhaustion, drama, and for a lucky few, eventual triumph, then tune in to this year's Tour de France. There's nothing else like it.

No comments:

Post a Comment