Sunday, July 28, 2019

What the last day of the Tour de France can look like

Once, for his birthday, he picked me up in his jet from Montreal and flew me to Paris.

Just the two of us. We shopped, we dined, and we went to the Crazy Horse. ...
Next day was the final day of the Tour de France, where for the last two laps we had the unbelievable treat of being in the little red Renault that is the lead car, a seat usually reserved for presidents but on this day filled with three very excited men: me, Robin, and Michael J. Fox. It was the most exciting thing I have done with my pants on. The lead riders were eight yards behind us sprinting up the Champs Élysées. We couldn't believe we were that close. We screamed and yelled like ten-year-olds. It was the best seat for any sport ever. As we passed the Louvre and headed down into the tunnel, a hundred riders were pedaling hard behind us for the final bell. As we climbed out of the little red Renault totally exhilarated, Michael J. Fox said, 'We will always have Paris.'
Eric Idle, describing an excursion with Robin Williams, from his recent memoir Always Look on the Bright Side of Life; A Sortabiography. Thanks to Russ Chamberlayne for the quotation.

For the rest of us, well, there is Sportsnet.

I was kinda hoping for one of the French contenders to ride into Paris in yellow this year.  But on the last day in the Alps Thibaut Pinot succumbed to a horrible muscle tear that had him riding hopelessly on in tears for a while.  Then, as widely expected, the miracle lead of unexpected new hope Julien Alaphilippe came to an end in the final mountain stages from a whole series of well-constructed attacks by the strongest teams.

I'm not thrilled to see superteam Ineos (the former Sky) stand one-two on the podium, but it's good to see Egon Bernal, one of the Colombian super-climbers who have come to the tour in recent years, become the first Colombian champion at the age of just 22.  (For North American sports fans, it is striking how many of cycling's superstars do not speak English.)  These guys, born and raised at high altitude, climb like birds.

And props to Canada's new star Michael Woods, who ends something like 35th, and was a standout rider for Team EF throughout his first Tour appearance, and can now be ranked among the top twenty or so climbers in the world, with room to grow.  Also to Hugo Houle, also completing his first tour.

Best tour in years, according to some commentators. Highly competitive up to the last day, for sure.
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