Le Tour de France est de retour en France

After three amazing days in England, the Tour de France today returned to France. It seems almost unfair. Yorkshire in particular embraced the world’s most prestigious bicycle race as its own; crowds lined the route from start to finish and everywhere you looked there was bunting and yellow bicycles. Every shop window seemed to celebrate the arrival of the race in its own way, as this pharmacy shows.

Too much time in the saddle?

Having followed the race on television for many years, it was almost surreal to not only see it in person but to have it brought almost to my doorstep. Though the peloton passed by in mere moments, the memories of the occasion will remain for a very long time to come.

My favourite ever TDF moment has to be Stephen Roche’s comeback at La Plagne on stage 21 of the 1987 Tour. Roche had been dropped by overall race leader Pedro Delgado on the final climb, but somehow managed to claw his way back, losing only 5 seconds to the Spaniard at the summit. Thanks to his superior performance in the final time trial, Roche then took the yellow jersey and became the first Tour de France winner from Ireland. The superhuman effort by Roche, who needed oxygen at the top of the climb, was reinforced by the excellent commentary of Phil Liggett, who had not been aware of just how close together on the road the two rivals were.

Again Pedro Delgado has slipped Stephen Roche on the climb, but remember, at one point he had a minute and a half. And just who is that rider coming up behind? Because that looks like Roche. That looks like Stephen Roche! It’s Stephen Roche has come over the line! He almost caught Pedro Delgado, I don’t believe it. What a finish by Stephen Roche, we never knew he was that close. Stephen Roche has risen to the occasion so, so well, he almost caught Pedro Delgado on the line. Surely Stephen Roche is now going to win this Tour de France.

In similarly nostalgic fashion, an old Tour de France theme tune with footage that includes a disturbing amount of blood, along with the (blood-free) current song:

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