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Tour de France: It begins

22 days, 21 stages, 3,404 kms, 198 riders, 1 country, 1 yellow jersey. Le Tour de France yesterday began for the 100th time in its 110 year history (the two World Wars causing some rather large inconveniences through the first half of last century). Le Tour is one of the few sporting events each year that I get quite excited about. I don’t follow the road-cycling tournaments throughout the year, just this one. Unfortunately, with time zones being what they are and all that, each day’s live coverage doesn’t begin here in Australia until 10pm, which, on a work night, is rather annoying. However, SBS do put together highlight shows each evening in order to catch up on what happened the day before.

Last night I watched until there were 93km to go for the day. A lot of watching Le Tour has little to do with the riding at all: it’s as much about the fantastic French (and last night, Corsican) countryside, the villages, towns and cities, rivers and mountains, and making sense of the geography of it all. Watch Le Tour with the family often brings up discussion on more than just the cycling, with topics ranging from history (“Goodness those medieval stonemasons sure knew how to build a decent Cathedral!” to “Which battle in which war happened there?”) to travel (“Gee, I’d prefer to be there this week rather than at work!”) to road safety (“I sure wouldn’t want to be one of that guy driving the support car who got himself stuck in the peloton!”).

Here’s two a good next three weeks of cycling, discussion, great (French) weather, and hopefully success for either Cadel Evans or Mark Cavendish!

All photos and more information at letour.fr.

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