Sunday, July 21, 2013

Upping the Tour de France Ante

Every July, I look forward to the Tour de France. I started watching the Tour de France about 10 years ago, I had heard about this amazing guy named Lance Armstrong and decided to see what the hype was all about. I quickly learned that the Tour de France is definitely the tip of the competitive international cycling iceberg; one could plan an entire year around the many different competitions. Some of the more popular races include the Giro d’Italia (May), the Vuelta a EspaƱa (September), and Tour Down Under (January).

I like how the direction and evolution filming bike races has advanced; the stage broadcasts alternate between a battalion of motorbike videographers, keeping pace along with the peloton, and helicopter filming, taking in sweeping countryside views of ancient chateaus, forest, farmland and villages. Another interesting phenomena that occur during the Tour de France is some of the field art created by devoted countrymen and farmers. These people go to tremendous lengths to create a large-scale depiction of something they want viewers of the Tour de France to see.

Of course it’s too bad about that whole Lance Armstrong thing. Watching that drama had it’s own sort of sad appeal to it, and like you, I watched the Oprah interview in disbelief. Believe it or not, the whole Lance debacle hasn’t deterred me from watching the tour and seeing how everything all plays out. I am, however, a little more skeptical now when someone does exceptionally well. Over time, I have also found myself scanning cycling articles year round to find out information about drug testing, doping and cover-ups by the organizations that manage competitive international cycling.

This year, like every year, I found the tour to be interesting and exciting. There were grueling mountain stages, sporadic rainstorms during treacherous downhill races, powerful sprints, massive accidents and painful injuries; strategic team attacks occurring over several hours and several kilometers. The areas that the different stages are scenic and majestic, and having never visited France, I feel like I’ve been there. I’ve received a 21-day history lesson from Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin, dishing on both details behind the amazing landscape and details past and present about the cyclists who have participated in the Tour de France.

I thought it’d be funny if we upped the Tour de France ante and added some next-level appeal ala The Running Man to each stage. It’s be great if while cycling through the alps, the peloton also had to dodge projectiles that came from snipers in tree tops. Or maybe there were a bunch of AT-ATs and AT-STs set loose throughout the course, chasing and closing in on the cyclists racing to the finish. Another exciting scenario could be to insert a team of “bad guys” to try to affect the performance of the cyclists. I imagine the bad guy team to be wearing tattered leather Mad Max uniforms, and instead of power bars and bananas in their jersey pockets, they have tacks, grease, string, and other performance deterrents.

Imagine these two chasing after the peloton, hurling Molotov cocktails and screaming like a banshee. 

Imagine if the TdF had a stage where all the competitors had to drop acid and compete on BMX bikes.

Chris Froome from South Africa on Team Sky won the yellow jersey this year. I’m kind of indifferent about his win, I hope he isn’t on drugs but you never know. He seems to be pretty adamant that he is clean so I’m hoping for the best. I think there’s been a perpetual history of cyclists trying to figure out ways to get an undetectable advantage. I am pretty glad Alberto Contdor didn’t win; I do not particularly care for him. He placed 4th in the final standings. The winner I am very excited about in this year’s TdF is Nairo Quintana from Columbia, he ended up winning 2nd place overall, and he also won the Best Mountain Climber Jersey and the Best Young Rider (24 and under classification).  

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