The Tour de France has begun today, with three days in England, starting today and tomorrow in Yorkshire, up t’North, for those readers not familiar with English geography.
I like this advert today from Yorkshire Tea.
On Monday the Tour rides into London from Cambridge, with a sprint finish down the Mall. The race route almost comes past my office – it turns right at Westminster Bridge instead of coming down Millbank. Could have watched from one of the meeting rooms! Might need to take a late lunch break instead.
With the World Cup nearing its climax, I haven’t had much time for Wimbledon or even the Tour yet. But it will assert its grip. There’s less British interest – other than it actually being here – this year, as Sky goes ever more multinational and – sacrilege! – has dropped Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 winner. Doesn’t ride well with Chris Froome, the 2013 winner. Froome is lead man now, so his will prevails. Sad to see, as Wiggins is still a top rider: he won the Tour of California this year. But it shows that road cycling at this level is truly a team sport. With individual heroics – and transgressions – of course. The stories are always of individual battles. But no rider can win the Tour, or consistently take a sprint finish, without the support of a strong team. Just listen to the way Mark Cavendish lauds his team as they propel him to another last gasp stage win.
The Tour is said to be a three way battle between Froome, Alberto Contador (two years on from drugs disgrace) and Vincenzo Nibali, 2013’s Giro d’italia winner. There is only one time trial this year, towards the end. Maybe this will help Contador and Nibali. I’m pretty neutral this year. The Sky machine has lost its lustre for me, without the personality of Wiggo.
I’ll just sit back and enjoy the race, the scenery, and marvel how they get up and down the Alps and the Pyrenees and the Vosges – with or without drugs!