100 years of biking in France
Earlier this morning, WZDM Morning show host Aaron Lange discussed the Tour de France. This year marks the 100th year of the venerable bike race.
If you aren't aware of the Tour de France format, here it is. Around 200 riders-- on over 30 racing teams-- race for three weeks across the French-- and occasionally, other countries'-- countrysides. The race also includes various time trials, and trips into both the Alps and Pyrenees mountains. The winner is the one who can endure best, and make it to Paris wearing the yellow jersey.
Americans have done relatively well in the Tour since Greg LeMond won the title in 1986. However, the other two American winners have been involved in what I call a "tour de farce." Both Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis have had their wins vacated as part of blood-doping scandals. LeMond won three titles-- cleanly, as far as we know-- in 1986, 1989, and 1990. Usually, the man wearing the yellow jersey into Paris on the final day will wear it as the Tour winner-- but not in 1989. That year, LeMond-- still recovering from receiving 60 lead pellets in his body, courtesy of a hunting accident in California-- went on a tour de force on the final day of the Tour de France. He trailed Frenchman Laurent Fignon by 56 seconds going into the final day. That year, the final day was a time trial-- 15 miles from Versailles to Paris. No champagne ride for the winner that year, as LeMond-- riding the quickest time trial seen to that time-- beat Fignon for the title by 8 seconds. No Tour title has ever been closer-- and that year marked the last time the yellow jersey changed hands on the final day. Conversely, no other time trial has ever been held on the final day of competition since.
It has been 24 years since LeMond's Tour de Force in the Tour de France. This year, Britain's Chris Froome looks like he will raise the Union Jack in Paris. But a lot can change in the Alps-- can he hold on to the lead-- and the win? Time-- and the mountains-- will tell.
Happy 100th, Tour de France. It has been Tour de Force, and Tour de Farce-- but in the end, it is still here, and isn't going anywhere soon.
That'smy take... I'm Tom Lee.