Today is the first day of the Tour de France!!! I have been fascinated with the Tour since 2000. Back in 1999 my dad sent me a newspaper clipping about Lance Armstrong winning the Tour de France when I was in the Peace Corps. I didn't know anything about the tour, but I really couldn't believe that someone who had come back from having cancer to win the competition tapped into my "rooting for the underdog" sensibility.
That first July in 2000 I began reading the updates in the paper since I didn't have the cable channel that televised it yet. And then I got to see Lance Armstrong in all his glory on television that last stage and I was hooked. I was finally able to put a face to all the riders I had been reading about and the teams they belonged to.
Many people asked me after Lance Armstrong retired if I would still watch and I answered with a resounding "Yes!" I have learned over the years, how teams work. If the team isn't a team in the true sense how that could affect the whole race. There have been years when teammates have sided with one rider over another and did everything for their rider to win. Other times teams have been able to protect their "leader". Lance Armstrong's US Postal team is a prime example. The team was able to protect Armstrong against the peleton, which is the pack of racers trying to keep up so they finish the race.
As a Tour spectator, one must be patient. The first week everyone is mostly on an even playing ground and then the drama sets in called, the Alps. This is where the true test of endurance, concentration and drama within the race is put to the test. There have been many crashes, burnouts, injuries, and plain exhaustion that take the riders out one by one. It has been where Armstrong was able to get his leads for a win in each of the 7 Tours he had won. Granted, other teams were on to him and his strategy after the first two years, but that just made for a better race in my opinion.
From watching Lance Armstrong, I was able to watch his teammates and competitors too. I have become fond of these men and look forward to seeing them every year. I get upset when a favorite of mine isn't in it, because I have come to enjoy watching them race. This year, I have Armstrong, Evans, Leipheimer, Kloden, Millar, Hincapie, and Popovych to name a few. I am in hog heaven. Of course I am rooting for Armstrong because his story is what got me interested in the first place, but I hope for a great Tour.
À demain. Take care and be safe.
All my love,