The Tour de France started on Saturday and I'm delighted. The start this year was in London and it was wonderful. The weather and the London crowds showed that the Tour can rise above the dark side of doping and drugs that have mired it in negativity recently.
Fabian Cancellera won the prologue which was a 7.9km time trial around London. As the riders raced along the historic London roads with some of the most famous back drops London has to offer in places like Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, they must have thought they were already in Paris. London is one of the only cities that could even rival Paris as being such a immensely impressive setting for a bike race. Cancellera is the world time trial champion and he showed why in impressive form. American George Hincappie was a respectable 3rd place and the top GC contenders had respectable showings.
Lavinia and I woke early on Saturday to watch the coverage. She enjoys the races and much as I do and I think she has a not so secret crush on Cancellera. She has ever since he won the prologue in 2005. We were both rooting for George Hincappie of the Discovery Channel team, but we enjoyed watching solid efforts from all our favorites. Watching a time trial specialists is very interesting. The good ones are so disciplined in their form, approach and mental strength in the race it is down right impressive and marveling to watch. Think about stretching and tucking yourself into a nice perfect yoga position. Then think about holding that pose for 9 minutes. Then think about holding that pose for 9 minutes and going at 80-90% of your max heart rate anerobically. That gets you close to what a time trialist goes through. They are tucked into a very aerodynamic position and the best ones have the best position.
I really look forward to the Tour every year. I watch the other races through out the year and read velonews.com daily for news and results, but watching the Tour is the highlight. I know my friends think I'm nuts and that watching cycling is dull to them, but unless you cycle or do a sport that is similar in effort it is hard to understand what is so enticing. Understanding what it takes reach these limits, to ride a machine in that way, or to train so hard for such an event helps make watching the coverage more enjoyable. I let my friends have their digs because I think I can understand their amusement (for heaven's sake some of them watch golf, what is that about?), but I'll be in front of the TV every morning watching the Tour for the next 3 weeks.
Finally, listening to the coverage on Vs. from Paul Schwren and Phil Ligget is like having your two favorite relatives visit and tell you stories that keep you on the edege of your seat.
I won a race on my bike once and just having that moment in my life helps me celebrate with each and every winner who comes across the line.
Here's to a great Tour.