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WHY YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT THE TOUR DE FRANCE
Ten (Count 'em) Good Reasons
It’s fun. There are tons of anecdotes, statistics, and photogenic pictures. Did you know there is a special prize for the most “combative” rider? They mean the rider who rides most aggressively. (Click for link to article about most combative.) There are also awards for best new rider, best mountain climber, and even the rider with the worst luck. No prize for the rider with the best personality.
It’s historic. The TdF has been run for 100 years. How long have they had basketball’s NBA Finals, the Superbowl, or the Stanley Cup? And if you ask ten people on the street, how many will even know what the Stanley Cup is, anyway?
It’s honorable. Cycling is the only sport where you are expected to cooperate with the opposing competitors. In fact, it is considered bad form not to cooperate in a pace line. Recently when the race leader was sabotaged by tacks thrown onto the roadway; the whole pack of racers slowed down to wait for him.
No drugs. Despite all the publicity, cycling is the only sport which aggressively discourages drug use with a zero tolerance policy. Performance enhancers are common in other sports, and when exposed, the title holder often remains in the record books with an asterisk. In cycling, the record is changed to promote the next rider.
It’s exciting. Think of the risk of high speed descents on a winding Alpine road overlooking deep scenic valleys. The Tour de France is a test of strength and courage over three weeks. Although anyone can ride a bike, racing is highly skilled, with many subtle strategies for teams and individuals.
International Diplomacy. Fans and teams socialize together in as friendly a manner as Olympians at a cocktail party. Soccer-type hooligans don't show up at the TdF.
It’s refreshingly commercial. Every team sponsor is obvious. A bank or national lottery or travel company is unabashed to advertise its name.
It's subtle. The most important issue in bike racing is wind resistance. Therefore it is desirable NOT to be first in a group. Then the coach has to decide how to handle all the nuances of each day's terrain, weather and competitor. Team strategies vary from day to day, and of course from team to team.
It's technical. Engineers and physiologists and astrologers all get together to create and analyze the bikes. Football doesn't seem to attract physicists. Golfers wax poetic about their titanium clubs. Big deal. No moving parts, no maintenance or lubrication, and one vendor for the whole club. Bikes are the synthesis of many manufacturers working together.
Spectators are up close. Bike racing is one of the few sports where spectators get to view up close, really close. Think how exciting it is to hand a waterbottle or other items directly to your hero, as he goes by.
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