Well, I'm watching again, more for the scenery than for the sporting aspect (in which I will become interested the final week unless there is already no suspense left). I saw some amazing castles (some in ruins) in Belgium the first two days, but now they are about the arrive in Epernay, and the champagne vineyards are spectacular seen from above.
There are also some evil hills at the end here, and it is always nice to see these athletes suffer, but only because they asked to do so. It would not be nice if they had to do it against their will.
I hope you saw my feets that were filmed for 2 secs on Saturday. I liked the caravan and got a cap and the cyclists went so fast that everybody was saying there should be more to come but none came. It all went in a whizz. Then it was I er we went back home and had blueberry tart.
French riders won the Tour de France in 1981 (Hinault), 1982 (Hinault), 1983 (Fignon), 1984 (Fignon) and 1985 (Hinault). That was the last time that France won the Tour de France (and Laurent Fignon died of cancer in 2010 at age 50 -- we can always wonder if chemical sports enhancements might have contributed to this even though he seemed honest).
This year it looks like France might have a chance again, although I personally so not find it probable since both the Pyrénées and the Alps await the Tour, and that always changes everything. But anyway, here is the current standing of the riders.
As little as I care about the Tour de France, it's nice that it's a mix of different nationalities and that the standings change from day to day, unlike in past years where it was the same (doped up) American guy for several years. Actually, given that his name escapes me just goes to show how unimportant this is in the long run.
The Tour de France seems to be redeeming itself this year, particularly since the big stars are missing. It had become a tech show in recent years and the riders have become robots since they must listen to the constant instructions given by their employers and have absolutely no independence. I am certainly totally happy with the visuals with the helicopters, the drones and the motorcycles, but that is just minor fluff in terms of the sporting event.
Julian Alaphilippe still has the yellow jersey, and he has brought the race back to its "everyman" basics. He talks to the crowds before and after the race every day. He usually doesn't even get to have dinner before 22:00 because of autographs and discussions with fans. That was the whole point of the Tour in the past, before it was overtaken by the divas and so-called superstars, who were totally inaccessible.
Meanwhile, the department of the Gard is planning on a financial jackpot with the Tour winding through the entire department, including Nîmes and the Pont du Gard. Most of the money will come next year when tourists from around the world put it on their bucket list. The broadcast of at least some of the Tour now reaches 190 countries and at least half of the people watch it just for the scenery. After all, you can look at people riding bikes for six hours only so long.
The Tour is beginning to alarm me because of the weather. Today the riders had to confront temperatures above 40°. It ended well today, but partly because yesterday was a rest day. They will not be as rested tomorrow and have to head towards the Alps and the city of Gap. And then things will get nasty with Thursday as the hottest day in the region.
Today, leaving from the Pont du Gard, they were already at 39° but as they progressed in the direction of the Alps, the temperature went down to 33° -- and then they hit a huge rainstorm... The lavender fields look perfect.
The riders are at 800 metres altitude at the moment.
Oh, big surprise today -- they had to stop the stage before the end because the road to Val d'Isère was suddenly buried in hail. I'm trying to imagine the reaction of the hundred thousand people waiting in Val d'Isère for the last three days for the Tour to arrive.
There are an amazing number of Colombians in Paris today. Those who actually travelled all the way from Colombia just for this probably came hoping to see the national champion Nairo Quintana win, so what a surprise that another Colombian who is only 22 years old is going to win instead -- Colombia's first Tour de France win ever. But the crowds love Egan Bernal, even the French who were hoping to win after decades of losing, because it's basically been years since a smiling, friendly, humble person has won the Tour. Most of the winners are killing machines as well as being long time stars who have forgotten how to smile or greet the public.
There was an amazing flow of people into the city this morning -- Belgian and Dutch cars coming into Paris on my street from Porte de la Chapelle and also hordes of people at Gare du Nord. I really don't know if there are more people that usual, but since the finale takes place in the evening again this year, people did not have to come the day before and melt into the summer crowds already in place. The riders are not expected to cross the finish line until 21:10 or so.
And Egan Bernal should have a smile on his face if he doesn't fall off his bike today.
It is just a scenic day, but I am happy for the exhausted riders who no longer have to compete. There have been a few exceptions in the past, and they were usually heartbreakers, so it's probably all for the best.