That’s the Tour de France you know. As I write this on Tuesday 14 July, it is certainly shaping up to be an exciting finish. I had hoped to run you through the last few days by using various acidic quotes from assorted unhappy riders, but fortunately, if there has been any ‘handbags at dawn’ moments they have managed to stay off the pages of the media.
As expected, the rivalry between team mates Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador in the Astana team has risen to a moderately controlled simmer. I think that so far this week, each of them has only managed one relatively inoffensive comment, which for cyclists is very good.
Why are team mates rivals? Well I haven’t really done my pre-tour homework, so I don’t know if any team orders existed, but here we have seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong riding with the 2007 Tour de France winner Contador.
In this sport, mutual respect and admiration don’t exist, and alliances are forged and destroyed in seconds. It makes for good viewing, though sometimes it’s hard to follow what’s happening.
This is especially true on those occasions when two or three teams suddenly start working together to realise a mutual goal. Once this is achieved, the status quo is restored and they are enemies once again.
Another aspect that confuses the layman is why riders who are leading their various competitions; sprinters, king of the mountains etc, figure so lowly in the overall rankings?
For example; the chap who currently holds the green sprinter’s jersey, Thor Hushvold, is at present a lowly 121st from 171 riders still competing. British rider, Mark Cavendish, who wore the green jersey for two or three days last week and who has won no fewer than three of the ten stages so far, is at 135th position.
But don’t concern yourself too much with these apparent anomalies, just watch and enjoy.
• Arthur Lamy is the manager of Boudins for Bikes, in Sand Street, and author of Jersey Cycles. He has spent 15 years as a tourist guide and writer, and is also a keen photographer. More information can be found on his website: www.arthurlamy.com