Monday, July 03, 2017

The Tour 2017

July 1, in case you had not noticed, was also the start of the Tour de France.  Is it unpatriotic to spend Canada Day morning watching coverage of a rainswept time trial in Dusseldorf, Germany, eventually won by an unheralded Welshman?  Naah.

It's an awkward tour this year. I'm still getting used to the absence of Ryder Hesjedal, now retired, as one could always organize one's viewing around how the Canadian contender was doing.  Even his team, Garmin, is no more (tour team names are constantly reinvented as sponsors appear and vanish). A surprising number of the dominant riders this year have birthdates in the mid 1980s, which means they are coming to the end of their careers. There seems to be a dearth of young superstars, and one fears a stranglehold by the big-money British team Sky.

But it may yet be terrific. Dusseldorf was rain and fog, and the damp run to Liege, Belgium yesterday mostly showcased the industrial decline of that end of Belgium.  But today is getting into the scenic wonders of the tour. Who knew that Luxembourg had wooded valleys, and spectacular ruined castles over strategic river crossings.  (I imagined a flat postage stamp-size wheat field and the headquarters of some sketchy banks, I guess.)  This year they will hit every mountain range in France -- five of them, we are told constantly -- and I'm hoping for good weather and great helicopter shots.

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