111 – Le Tour de France

Le Tour hits Lyon today. Frédéric Moreau said to me that cycling is as close as sport gets to rock and roll. Cycling has never been clean. It’s too hard. 3000 km in three weeks up mountains. Five time winner Jacques Anquetil famously said that only a fool would imagine it was possible to ride from Bordeaux to Paris in a day on just water. ‘We have to ride through the cold, through heatwaves, in the rain and in the mountains. Leave me in peace; everybody takes dope.’

I love the circus of cycling. It’s like football: full of cheaters, divers, egos. So it’s amazing to read sports journalists have a dig at cycling when football is probably one of the most ruthless selfish, arrogant sports there is. I mean just look at Jose ‘I am the Special One’ Mourinho. I’m surprised there was enough ego-oxygen left in London for him to breathe on when he returned last month.

As Lance Armstrong pointed out in his interview: if everybody’s at it, it’s kind of fair game. If you know there is no way to win unless you dope, you’re probably going to do it. Like diving in the penalty box in a World Cup final to win the game. Things change when you approach glory. When you have the opportunity to reach a place very few people will ever go. It must change the way you think. I’m not saying it’s right. But it happens.

So later I’ll be dressing up in my England football strip and going along to cheer on the boys. See what it’s like to see 190 fully grown men create 30,000 watts of power while riding along the banks of the Rhone (as was calculated last week in Le Monde). The same stretch of road I’ve walked up and down I don’t know how many times during my two years here. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been ‘following’ the Tour since I was a boy. And in a few hours I’ll be able to see it with my very own eyes.

My whole life will flash before me in less than five seconds. I hope it’s good.


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