Tour de France

photos from Guardian website

I have managed to find the Tour de France live on television! They were obviously waiting for when the race got to the Champs Elysée and so hadn't bothered with the first part of this last Stage and all the champagne drinking and cigar smoking by the cyclists on their bikes! As is the tradition.... But it's now getting exciting and there is lots of talk of Quintana since I think the commentators on ESPN are Colombian. Anyway it's all happening and the reason I can write this while it's happening is because of the blessed ad breaks, which drive me mad....

Another ad break... the Colombian commentators are waxing lyrical about the sights, the weather, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and everything else when really I only want to see the peloton and the yellow jersey on Froome. It's all happening out there and emotions are getting intense and the excitement is rising. Round and round they go, just 6 more "tours" and then they are there at the finish line. 

At the moment another Brit, David Millar, is at the head of the race. He's Scottish!!!!! Meanwhile back in the peloton Froomey is bunched up inside his team, being protected by the others in the Sky team. They want to make damn sure he gets to the end ok, even though he has a 5 minute advantage over everyone else. I think there are only 4 more tours to go, or even less... The commentators are getting so excited that they forget to say.

Meanwhile Cavendish, another Brit, is in the peloton somewhere. He was hoping to win this Stage today, will he? I wonder. He's a complete wizard on the flat so there's hope yet. The tension is mounting...  So now we know, the Colombian ambassador is there to give the prize to Quintana for being the man of the mountains so I am now pretty sure the commentators are indeed Colombian.  Only 25 kms more to go...

And so they continue. Froome is well tucked into his group of support riders at the head of the peloton and Millar has kept his lead, he's over 25 seconds ahead of the peloton. The danger with this is will he be able to keep that up? Surely Cavendish thinks he won't. 

So Millar has now been swallowed up by the peloton, as we suspected would happen, still with about 19 kms to go. Where is Cavendish? Froomey is fine still, thank goodness.

As much as I love the live reporting and which I totally depend on there is nothing finer than watching the real thing on telly. The excitement is palpable and they are just cycling and cycling and cycling and jostling for position and it's all about strategy. Apparently. Only about 10 kms to go now. And there's the Louvre yet again, the Arc de Triomphe yet again, and the cyclists forgotten as we do a quick tourist trip round Paris. Ugggghhhhh.

Chris Froome is the winner of this year's Tour de France, the 100th edition. Fabulous. And Mark Cavendish did his level best to win the sprint but was unable to at the end, by half a bicycle length... feel bad for him but feel fabulous for Froome, how wonderful. Quintana was indeed Man of the Mountain and he also won 2nd place overall, he is a happy man. One of the commentators is apparently Mexican so I got that wrong and she just said that Bradley Wiggins has not been in contact Froome, that they are not friends. I wonder if that's true... typical that the Mexican has to bring in the gossip to spoil the feeling.


Anyway, the gossip doesn't matter, the win is the thing and Froome is smiling widely at everyone and everything, he now knows what it's like to win. Incredible. Now he's being interviewed with his girlfriend beside him and he is a softly spoken man who looks stunned with everything, that it hasn't sunk in yet, etc. Nice guy. He makes a speech, including the first part in French, and then says this to the tv camaras:  "It brought tears to my eyes, coming over the line with the guys like that. I expected it to be big but this is something else. It's been an amazing way to finish off a 100th edition of the Tour de France."
He then declares his victory a triumph for drug-free riding and proof of a sport that is entering a new, clean era. "In a way I'm, glad that I've had to face those questions after the tarnished history over the last decade. All of that has been sort of channeled towards me now and I feel like I've been able to deal with it reasonably well and send a strong message that the sport has changed. And it really has. The peloton aren't going to stand for it any more." 

They've just done a lightening trip round the Tour this year and you forget the mountains they go up, the rain, the stunning countryside, the dreadful crashes, the broken arms, legs, ribs, collarbones, the utter exhaustion, the effort, etc. Also the people who run in front of the cyclists, so crazily, all yelling. So many things, such a hard race. My respect to all the cyclists who participated in this 100th edition of the race. Well done Chris Froome. And then the son et lumiere starts and the Arc de Triomphe turns into a massive screen on which are projected images and colours and lights, all very spectacular. Froome looks very emotional when the national anthem is played.

Time for a glass of wine and that's my sporting Sunday over and done with, what a great day! And this after walking an hour, doing the washing, seeing an estate agent who is putting my house on the market.... The sport definitely cheered me up.

With thanks to the Guardian website for information and photos:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2013/jul/21/tour-de-france-stage-21-live



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