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Tour de France Observations (Long)(7 posts)

Tour de France Observations (Long)ms
Jul 31, 2002 11:56 AM
I rode in Velo Magazine's Etape du Tour on July 22 (I will have a separate post on it) and stayed in the Alps to see the pros ride Stage 17 (Aime to Cluses -- I was 2/3rds of the way up the second climb -- Col des Saises). I also saw the final stage in Paris on Sunday. A few observations:

Lance Armstrong: The thing that impressed me most when I saw him on Stage 17 was his intense look and body language. Even if he was not wearing the yellow jersey he would have stood out from the rest of the peloton.

The French reaction to Armstrong: On Stage 17 I was the only (apparent) non-French spectator in my vicinity. In Paris, the crowd was less French, but nonetheless there were a lot of French spectators near me. There were significant pro-Armstrong cheers in both places. In neither place did I hear the anti-Armstrong/doping jeers that I saw reported in the International Herald Tribune and apparently were widely reported by the United States press during the race. When I rode the Etape in a USPS jersey, many people along the road cheered: "Allez [go] Armstrong."

The post award lap on the Champs Elysees: After the awards ceremony, each of the teams (in reverse order of success) rides a lap around the Champs Elysees. Given the speed with which the riders came by on both Stage 17 and on the Champs Elysees, it was the only time that I could get a good look at the riders. Some of the riders looked bone tired (I am sure that all of the riders were), most were fairly light hearted (snapping pictures, retruning comments from supporters). Tyler Hamilton looked especially up when he rode by me. I was impressed by Eric Zabel -- notwithstanding his just having lost his franchise on the green jersey, he rode with great dignity and grace. BTW: The picture of Lance Arstrong holding up four fingers that was on the front on Monday's New York Times and other newspapers was snapped immediately in front of where I was standing -- Lance was about 10 feet from me.

Jerseys: Given the speed of the race, distinctive jeresys are the only way to pick out riders. There are too many teams with dark blue jerseys -- the USPS riders (except for the yellow jersey) blended into other teams like Bonjour.

French TV Coverage: I watched the French TV coverage of the Tour from July 16 through the end of the race. My French is weak, but I really did not need to speak any French to understand the coverage -- one would have thought that Laurent Jalabert and Richard Virenque were the only riders of any importance in the race. Phil and Paul have an obvious bias towards English-speaking riders, but they have no bias compared to the French announcers. I did not perceive any anti-Armstrong bias on French television, but at several points the commentators appeared to make negative comments about Spanish riders.

Logistics of watching the Tour: Access to the Tour route is not difficult. Although there are great crowds at the summits of the great climbs, it is fairly easy to get a good spot on the route of the tour (excluding Paris) so long as you can get to a spot before the roads close (about three hours before the riders are scheduled to appear). If you have your bike, as I did, you can ride on the road even after it has been closed to traffic. Also, if you ride your bike, you don't have to worry about finding a place to park (there is not too much shoulder space on most of the climbs I saw). Having a list of the riders' numbers is key to identifying the riders. The list is published in local newspapers. My daughters and I arrived about four hours before the race arrived on the Champs Elysees. We were able to snag a front row spot -- there were few after 12:30 p.m. However, we then had to stay in place to protect it. If I had been alone, I probably could have arrived up to an hour before race time and garnered a good second or third row spot which would not have been a problem for me (I'm about six feet tall - 5'11 3
re: Tour de France Observations (Long)gtx
Jul 31, 2002 12:24 PM
I've watched the Tour several times on Italian TV. As far as I could tell during those years there were only Italian riders in the Tour.
wait a few years and seeDanoK
Jul 31, 2002 8:38 PM
Wait a few years when Lance will be done and see what happens to American TV and press coverage of the Tour. If you use American coverage as a guide, you'll think the TdF and European pro cycling don't even exist anymore. When Lemond was winning, Americans paid attention. After he stopped, all but the thinnest coverage stopped. Same will happen post-Lance. At least the Europeans continue the coverage and pay attention to their riders who don't finish first.
Interesting and sad, but probably true. (nm)jtferraro
Aug 1, 2002 6:47 AM
OLN seems commited...biknben
Aug 1, 2002 7:17 AM
They cover the Giro and Vuelta. I'm no grand tour historian but I can't think of an American Vuelta winner. Hampsten won the Giro when? '88 I think.

OLN seems to be doing a good job of covering cycling in general. It's the rest of the media that is jumping on the LA bandwagen.

Kuddoes to OLN. I just wish I had it. :-(
Thanks for sharing! nmspyderman
Aug 1, 2002 2:43 AM
Yes, I 2nd that! (nm)jtferraro
Aug 1, 2002 6:46 AM