Friday, July 1, 2011

...what time it is...

We are on the eve of one of the most important dates on the cycling calendar, no it's not Eddy Merckx's birthday.  It's the tour day France, you silly!  I have to be honest and say that I am a Classics guy, and deep down I feel that le Tour is totally over-hyped, but I am such a fan.  I am secretly in love with the grand race that circumnavigates the nation of France.  One look at a clip of the race and you see such beauty, multicolored kits framed with sunflowers, roads winding up cols, and the castles that have furniture older than our country.  This exhibition of sport is eclipsed by none, man melds with machine for 23 days to labor for one to stand above all others.

 Yeah, I'm excited, the buzz of the stages; the talk of new bikes, wheels, and custom paint.  Who is going to win?  Who is going to challenge for the Green jersey?  Oh, and my favorite of all things cycling: The Breakaway -Going Rogue.  Putting your nose in the wind and damning the torpedoes, for what?  Glory?  TV sponsor time? To stay away and win?  Or is it just pure tactics?  Whatever the reason you have to love the break.  How boring would it be if everyone stayed together?  The leader's team has to take up the chase if the gap becomes to big, and then the sprinter's teams make sure that they can catch at approximately 10k to go.  The break, the chase, and the catch -or not- stick it, attack your companions and go for the stage... Solo.  To paraphrase Jens: if you don't try you have no chance of winning.

Yes I love the Spring Classics, I love the cobbles, I love watching the Rouleurs motor up the muurs, but when it comes down to it le Tour is what everyone knows.  For good reason.  It is huge.  Everything about it is big, it's like Texas.  People say "it's like the Superbowl", what a disservice to one of sport's biggest spectacles on the planet.  The Superbowl is two teams from American football going head to head in a span of a few hours with some multi-million $ commercials that are usually better than the actual game.  Le Tour lasts a full month has like 18 teams of nine riders, and millions of spectators that paid nothing -and those are the ones on the sides of the road, what you got?

One aspect of le Tour that we here in America have no concept of, unless you have been there, is the caravan.  I'm talking about the sponsor's cars that hand out water, candy and the odd giant green hand that precedes the peloton.  There is also the caravan that we get a small glimpse of every-now-and-then when a rider drops back for bottles or a bike change or heaven forbid has to get patched up by the race Dr.

If you could not tell I am ready for le Tour, I'm looking forward to watching a stage everyday for the next month.  If you don't have Tour fever, what's your problem?  The cycling gods are smiling on us, it's July and we are about to witness a new chapter in cycling history and the history of le Tour.  We are done with the neutral roll-out...   ATTACK!!!!