Every July, I religiously follow the Tour de France. My Tour de France "obsession" started in the mid-90s when my dad would watch the 30-minute daily recap on ESPN. Over the years, it's evolved to the point that now I spend quite a bit of time (think multiple hours on the weekends!) watching the race, reading the live internet updates while I'm at work, and perusing daily race blogs for the little-known storylines. I've even been known to take mornings off of work to watch important stages unfold live.
I am captivated by the event. I love the beauty of a train of riders flying through the French countryside. I love the sacrifices that riders make to train for this event. Each rider has their own story for how they got to the Tour and what they went through to make that happen. I love the hurt that riders feel after a hard day. I love the endurance that it takes to get on the bike and ride at your best day after day after day. For 3 weeks! I love that just when I think I know is going to win, something happens to change that. In the Lance Armstrong years, I loved how he dominated from start to finish. He didn't let anyone beat him on the mountain climbs or in the time trials. No one compared to his talent and dedication. In this year's race, I love that the race is more wide open and riders that specialize in the mountains or in the time trials can limit their losses in the other disciplines and still come out on top. I love the fight and courage of riders to push through the pain of injury and crashes. This year, Alexandre Vinokourov, the pre-race favorite, crashed early in the Tour and has about 60 stiches in his knees. But he is still riding!!! He struggled in the Alps but today in the time trial, he fought through the pain and beat the rest of the field by a huge margin. I admire the phsyical and mental strength that it takes not to give up. I love the strategy of the tour. Although individuals race the tour, the rider's teams play a huge role in the overall success of the individual. I love that there are races within the race (for the sprinters, the mountain climbers, the young rider and the overall leader).
What an all-around-great sporting event. Vive le Tour!!
10 months ago