Only Moments To Go
It’s just gone midnight and to quote Phil Collins, “I can feel it coming in the air tonight, Oh Lord!”
He may not have been singing about the Tour, but it sure is what I’m thinking right now, and I know I’m not alone.
With only a few hours to go before the 100th Tour de France, the run-up these past days is nothing short of extraordinary. What with the national championships recently contested by most nations, it gives us plenty to cheer about: both Mark Cavendish and Lizzie Amitstead triumph for the winners red, white and blue stripes before heading out to France.
Three more Baroudeurs follow them to the French island of Corsica. Not for a national race mind. Non, non non. Under strict orders, London’s (and Singapore’s) finest resist temptation in seeking out Napoleon’s Elba island nearby, nor hunting down lost gold on the Isle of Monte Christo; instead, all three dutifully discover out the tranquil roads of Corsica days before the Grand Depart!
Hot on the heels of yet another memorable Giro, Le Tour is set to shake the sport up for the next long, tough, fantastic three weeks. Shakes happened early on with Team SKY backing a new Team Leader in the form of Chris Froome; the sublime Team Blanco morphing into Team Belkin – encouraging to see a company quickly snap-up a worthy cycling team that was previously TeamRabobank. Then again a 5 year deal by an electronics accessories giant to take up a pro-pedigree European Team is going to give the brand instant global access; and how can we forget the French paper Le Monde aiding, if somewhat misquoting, an infamous former Tour Champion in having his say again. Well, there’s so much going on in our sport, it’s bound to have the good, the bad and the ugly.
For now, let’s get back to the good and forgive me, I forgot to mention the beautiful too. Popular media is catching up and aiding the sport into becoming, dare we say it, a main-stream sport! The BBC online business section, for example, even devotes a collection of images and narration by Graeme Fife on the Tour de France 100, identifying Brian Robinson, the first British Professional to complete the great race in 1955. On BBC Radio 5 a two hour recording discussing the history and future of the sport goes to show how the sport is thriving.
Earlier this week, Ben shares a gem from the film archives, ‘La Legende du Tour de France’ is a find! An exquisite insight of the popular protagonists, landscapes and escapades of our heroes. The French voice-over adds to the spirit of the race.
Clearly this spirit of the sport is having a positive effect on our neighbourhoods too. With the mercury rising and the sunshine finally coming through, London is seeing cyclists in all styles rolling to the roads.
If there is any indication that Le Tour is taking centre stage this sporting season, you don’t have to go further than your personal computer. Simply open up to the google search engine and the e-world pays homage to this day. That’s saying a lot when you think that Wimbledon is also heating up with many popular players are out and Murray sets his eyes on centre court.
A further celebration of French origin is the welcome return of one of the original sponsors of the ‘maillot jaune’ – the winner’s yellow jersey, Le Coq Sportif Cycling. Their newly opened trendy store on Seven-Dials, London, stands out as a testimony that the French love for Le Tour is equally shared by us across the channel. That, and the fact they wouldn’t mind getting hold of our hard earned cash too. Although, I don’t see this being much of a problem as their centennial jersey in black is something the Man from Milk Tray would certainly don.
Another popular, but local performance clothing company, recently created a video to salute their team as they set off for the Tour. Dressed in black and blue they are a team hoping to make it to Paris for their second victory. For our ladies and gentlemen in red white and black, our Baroudeurs, we salute you too!
Vive le Tour!