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vive le tour - a rest day ramble
the tour de france is cycling and cycling is the tour de france
There has been happiness and heartbreak, crashes and chaos, pink crocs and aerodynamic snoods. Week one of the Tour de France is over.
There is no other event like the Tour de France, the race which holds the whole sport by the balls. It has the power, the money and the influence.
There has long been debate into how we can take the popularity of the Tour de France into the rest of the cycling calendar. We can’t, and we’ll never be able to. The Tour is the Tour, and that’s not a bad thing.
We’re in the middle of a three week soap opera where each day will bring a new storyline. Some will develop across days and weeks, others which will be forgotten in a matter of hours. Today’s hero will be tomorrow’s villain, today’s loser might just be tomorrow’s winner.
It has been a Tour for the romantics. The farmer’s son, Yves Lampaert, pulled on his first yellow jersey. The now inseparable Fabio Jakobsen and Dylan Groenewegen won one day after the other. Wout van Aert with an audacious solo attack and win in the yellow jersey. Simon Clarke’s famous Roubaix stage win after not even having a contract. Lennard Kämna’s heartbreak as Tadej Pogačar clutched victory from the jaws of defeat, and Bob Jungels climbed back to the top.
The Tour de France is a circus, and the riders have been putting on a show.
It is the only race of the year where the drama starts before a number has even been pinned on. The whispers start in pre-season as to who’s going to be targeting the race and we start questioning who has the form and who could be in contention. There is the leaking of the line-ups and the annual outrage as a fan favourite inevitably misses out.
The Tour de France is the race that caused most of us to fall in love with the sport. I remember getting home from school and bursting into the front room to see Chris Froome running up Mont Ventoux. Last year, I managed to watch the Andorra stage in person, and I couldn’t believe my eyes as the riders danced up the Col de Beixalis.
It is the race that dominates conversation from the top to the bottom of the sport. From the Sunday club-run to the World Tour training groups, everybody is talking about it and everyone has an opinion on it. God forbid you win another bike race in July, it’s the Tour or bust.
Going into week two, there are still many questions to be answered: Can Tadej Pogačar be beaten? Will Jumbo-Visma and Ineos Grenadiers form a tag-team alliance? How many stages will Wout van Aert win? How drunk will the Dutch fans be on Alpe d’Huez?
The Tour de France is the reason we all love cycling. It might not be the best race of the year on the road, but it will always be the race that we hold closest to our hearts. The Tour de France is cycling, and cycling is the Tour de France.
I jumped on The Roadman Cycling Podcast with Antho Walsh to talk all things week one of the Tour, be sure to check it out.
This substack is where I’ll be noting my random thoughts from the cycling world. Be sure to subscribe to not miss future editions.