Tour de Farce

22Aug11

To many, the Tour de France is the shining pinnacle of athletic achievement and engrossing drama. To me, it’s a bunch of doped up strangers on bicycles going up a big hill. If they found a way to incorporate cricket (at the time of writing they have not) this would be the most pointlessly boring sport ever invented. Apart from ladies football. Joke! I’m a big fan.

That being said, statistics show that any contest is 0.06% more interesting when viewed in the flesh so I could not pass up the opportunity to cheer on my cycling heroes as they dashed to the finish at the Champs-Elysées. A huge crowd lined the avenue and I found myself blocked by a sea of middle-aged men in neon lycra. Fortunately, my blood had been re-oxygenated and my quivering buttock (the left) had received an undetectable testosterone shot, giving me the edge to get to the front. I’m being blackly satirical.

The organisers had laid on a carnival procession to keep the waiting fans entertained. This consisted of cars branded in corporate sponsorship being driven slowly past by waving, smiling people who would occasionally beep a horn to raise thrill tingles to a dangerous zenith. In itself this wasn’t much of a spectacle although the excited crowd of middle-aged men in neon lycra did lend an unexpected Gay Pride energy.

Eventually, even this stopped and we were left to stare at an empty street. I found myself feeling wistfully nostalgic for the logo bedecked grey Honda Civic that had being looping past for the previous 87 minutes.

This photo of the back of my head as I gaze blankly at a thin tree doesn't even come close to capturing the excitement I felt. Ok, it comes very close.

While waiting, I collected photographic proof that in Paris you are never more than one metre from a Frenchman slathering cheese on a baguette.

There was no indication of when the be-wheeled combatants would arrive so Susie asked the man next to us if he knew what time it would finish. He replied that technically it already was finished as the winner had been settled yesterday. This was the first I’d heard but it didn’t stop me catching his eye to give him a look that said ‘honestly mate, women and their lack of sporting knowledge!’. It’s not easy to convey that with a facial expression but I’m pretty sure I nailed it.

In actual fact, Susie is something of an expert as she had previously watched the Tour de France back in 1980 when she was about a year old.

Gadabout Fact No. 347: Susie was born in Bordeaux and lived there until she was two. This means I have a French girlfriend, making me suavely sophisticated despite all evidence to the contrary.

Susie watching the Tour de France in 1980...

...and again in 2011. Evidence of an unhealthy obsession with the world's premiere cycling event?

We had been standing in the same spot for over two and a half hours when the BMX Bandits finally charged over the horizon and flashed by in a screaming blur of acid colours. In a display of world class endurance and almost superhuman stamina we stayed there for three more minutes before having a lovely sit down to eat a packet of chocolate Tim Tams.

As it actually happened...

...as it should have happened to make waiting for two and a half hours worthwhile.

For those of you who regularly visit this blog for your roundup of world sporting reportage I can confirm that Cadel Evans won (no, me neither).

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One Response to “Tour de Farce”

  1. 1 Stuart Harrison

    Great stuff Dave – one of the best!


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