Five reasons why you should watch the Tour de France

7 Jul

Sprint finish Tour de France1. It’s incredibly exciting watching. Stick to the highlights between 7-8pm on ITV and you’ll see the best of that day. Unbelievable sprints to the finish line, incredible strength up steep mountains, stunning scenery and splashes of vibrant colour in the various team kit. Not to mention the nail biting carnage of the crashes and unplanned chaos such as the support bus getting firmly stuck under the finish line, with riders at 60k an hour just 3k from the end. You’ll be on the edge of your seat.

2. You learn about science. ITV do a brilliant job of explaining the how and why behind cycling. Why it matters to sit on the wheel of your team mate (the energy you save by riding in their slipstream is substantial), how close you need to be to make the most of this advantage (very), why the team sprinter who will win the stage is kept in the middle of the pack until the last minute (so he can conserve his energy). You realise how strategic and tactical the sport is – mental as much as physical.

3. Cyclists are hard bastards. Sure, Murray may play for three hours to win Wimbledon, but these guys are on the bike for five plus hours NON STOP. They eat, drink and pee on the bike, battling several thousand metres of ascent in the mountain stages and riding on the flat at an average of 50k an hour and downhill at up to 100k. That’s some serious speed. And they do this EVERY DAY for three weeks. It takes not just physical prowess, but pure mental determination and focus.

4. Mark Cavendish (speaking of physical prowess). Need I say more…

Mark Cavendish

(P.S. Ladies, if you do want more, check out the Bangable Dudes in Pro Cycling blog. The site consists of carefully selected photos of good looking professional cyclists (opinions are subjective). There’s something for everyone, including a heavily bearded CX cyclist and some mountain biking dude riding in just his gold speedos. Er….)

5. In the spirit of equality, I asked the men in my household what they thought. Their answer: crashes and sprints (as covered above) and the girls on the podium… an outdated, sexist tradition of having two beautiful women on either side of the podium as that day’s winner recieves his jersey and gifts… Really?!! Do they have men at the podium for the women’s Tour de France I wonder???

Dan Martin podium girls

If all the above is not enough, this year is the 100th Tour de France, so it’s the perfect time to get into it. It only happens once a year, so make the most of the next two weeks. And if you really enjoy it, you’ll have the Vuelta (the Spanish version), the Giro (the Italian version of the Tour de France) and the Classics (one day races) to watch as well.

You’ll also be able to appreciate why there is so much controversy around doping in cycling and whether it really is possible to achieve first place through sheer human athleticism, or whether you do need some additives.

Oh, and if you’re confused about the various colour jerseys and what they mean, there’s a brilliant explanation in this article from the Financial Times. Here’s an excerpt:

Then there are the jerseys: the semaphore of the Tour. The overall leader wears the famous Yellow Jersey (or Yellow Jumper, as I pitifully managed to refer to it on my first Tour). The Green Jersey is worn by the rider who manages to sweep up the most “points” on offer every day. You get a certain number at the finish line, and a certain number for an intermediate “sprint” en route. The Polka Dot jersey goes to the rider with the most points in the King of the Mountains competition – much like the Green Jersey but only available to collect on mountainous stages. The White Jersey is for the best young rider overall.

Any more ideas???

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2 Responses to “Five reasons why you should watch the Tour de France”

  1. sebinho9 July 8, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    I fell in love with the different stages and the different types of rider. I love that you can be that good at cycling but as a domestique your glory lies in doing all the hard work for your teammates. Or the puncheurs, who are neither pure sprinters nor mountain goats and who love to try and sneak the stages with just a little bit of ascent. There is truly something for everyone in the tour and the tactics are incredibly cerebral. I love it. Plus the scenery is formidable.

    • Emily July 8, 2013 at 10:32 am #

      Yes! Beautifully put Seb, I couldn’t agree more.

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