The big loop has begun, and how could we not write about it. The biggest show in earth, since 1903 the Tour de France has captured the imagination of first a nation, then a continent and now the world. Fifteen million people on the roadside, three billion on the television, and the most beautiful arena in all of sport. Mix in the finest road riders from across the globe in the best form and several thousand journalists, a thousand vehicle publicity caravan and you have something quite, quite special.
Finer writers than we have expounded on the race, its history and the giants of the road. So we will write rather of our own stories and discovery of magic of the Tour. We first discovered the Tour in 1983 and it was the pages of magazines like Winning that we turned to for stories and coverage of the race and its stars. Imagine then our excitement in about 1985 (from memory), when Wide World of Sports began showing the CBS coverage from America. Born of the rising popularity of Greg Lemond, we loved it. Corny soundtracks, overblown coverage and the dulcet tones of Phil Liggett. Laugh at us if you will, but we still love it!
Fignon, Lemond, Hinault, Roche, Delgado, our own Phil Anderson and more. Mythical, larger than life and impossibly strong on the bike, we could only dream and mimic. A teenage favourite was the rider style impersonation or the Phil Liggett commentary war whilst climbing the wall on Mt Dandenong.
A lifelong love affair with cycling began there and our horizons have grown just as the sport has grown. Indurain, Chiappuci, Pantani, our own McGee, McEwan, Cooke, O'Grady and more were all enjoyed. We stayed true through the drug issues and the trauma of Lance's fall from heaven to hell. And of course Cadel winning in 2011 was a highlight for anyone in Australia. And now we are all barracking for Richie P this year. Great rider, great person.
But of course, the sprinkle of magic dust that covers our first heroes is never quite matched, and we firmly fit into the nostalgia club and look back. Just as the veterans of our youth looked back to Merckx, Coppi, Anquetil and the like and never quite saw their equal. We quite understand, and realise that the long history, the ups and downs and the enduring passion of so many for cycling and the Tour is all a part of the magic. And the more we read of Eddy, Maitre Jacques and the Campionissimo the more their magic ensnared us.
We think it is fitting to let Mr Liggett have the last word as we remember tour's gone by with a couple of truly fine quotes and a memorable 1985 moment.
"now Roche must show the sort of courage that makes some men greater than others" (1987)
"but the pure rhythm of the great Spanish climber, Pedro Delgado, is giving cause for celebration on the Spanish borders this afternoon" (1988)
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