This was my first time watching the tour from start to almost-finish most nights. Being in Australia, it's a 10pm start, and so for the past three chilly Winter weeks I've come to understand from the warmth of my bed some more of the nuances and intricacies around teams and tactics and lead-out men and pelatons and to be honest, cynicism aside (at least for this paragraph), I'm feeling slightly overcome by the romance of the whole damn thing. All of those chateaux and uber cute French villages and dickheads running along the side of the road in their jocks with capes, an extreme amount of campervans, and riders taking corners so so fast that they crash into trees, or slide on road markings, or veer into car parks ... or even get thrown into barbed wire fences by careening team cars.
I'm feeling all taken with the romance and the anarchy, and the way the Tour is staged. There is a whiff still of a sort of gentlemanliness about this race, looking out of my sleepy, rose-coloured eyes (and so therefore karma to you, Alberto Contador).
This was my first real tour I watched from start to finish, and one of those people that those who have been following the Tour for years and getting out on their road bikes probably detest. My first full tour-watching, and an Australian wins it. You can't get much more of a fairytale than that. Throw in the chateaux and the Pyrenees and the Alps and even the downside of lack of sleep and viewing the HTC Desire S mobile phone commercial eleventy-nine times a night and I feel like the sort of interloper who hasn't been to a game all year but now sits transfixed in his Grand Final seat that he's scored free from Uncle Jack, whose dentist's cousin got a couple of freebies from work. All from the space of my bed.
Congratulations, Cadel Evans. Only some kind of uber horrid bad luck stands between professional pinnacle-reaching for you and an oversaturation of bobbleheaded blabberings on the TV for the next fortnight for us, fodder to fuel the mass spewing forth of suddenly-knowledgeable-ever-since-last-Sunday people who will be holding conversations around Australian water coolers for weeks to come.
Careening and chateaux and dickheads in their undies. Phil Liggett, twists and turns and Mark Cavendish loving his new bike 900 times in the ad break. Polka dot and green and white and yellow jerseys. The first Australian standing in a yellow jersey, potentially about to win the Tour in a fairytale sort of a fashion. What's not to love?
Looking forward to next year already. And in a true spirit of egalitarianism, I hope next time it's your turn, Mr Andy Schleck.