Seven Reasons Why You Should Be Watching The Tour De France

Seven Reasons Why You Should Be Watching The Tour De France
Johnny Hoogerland crash in Stage 9 - courtesy of Cyclingnews

Lance Armstrong has retired again, so what’s the point in watching a month-long bicycle race if a single American superhero can’t dominate it?

There are several reasons why you may actually enjoy watching the Tour de France through the 24th of July:

You're not a racing fan, but you've been known to watch NASCAR just for the crashes.

Fear not, car wreck gawker, there are plenty of spills at the Tour de France.  Racing shoulder to shoulder and wheel to wheel with two hundred other riders at speeds up to 50mph, there is bound to be one spectacular crash in every stage, sometimes more.  Many times the demanding terrain – rain soaked pavement, steep hills, narrow country lanes and cobblestone roads – will dramatically increase the chances of a wipe-out.  Other times it’s just a stupid spectator or his dog that knocks racers over like a row of dominoes.  On Stage Nine, two riders were actually hit by a car driven by a French television crew (and soldiered on to race the next stage despite injury).  The laws of physics have yet to be suspended during the TDF and Lycra shreds like paper when it slides along the road...

You enjoy watching travel shows like Rick Steve’s Europe, but would prefer it be filmed by helicopter.

Broadcasting the TDF is like combining a double-header baseball game with the NBA playoffs; it’s exceedingly long and nothing exciting happens until the very end.  With nary a birthday shout-out and a lot of dead air time to fill, Tour announcers are fortunate to have stunning aerial views of the French countryside to comment on.  You can listen to two guys with British accents as they discuss France’s architecture and history from medieval times to present day.  Each stunning view of a mountaintop village will take your breath away and remind you that even the best built walls won't protect you from an enemy that can fly...

You want to bond with that guy in the next cubicle who is fanatical about bicycling.

Instead of feeling bad that you sat on the couch watching television all weekend while your co-worker rode his bike 150 miles and still managed to mow his lawn, wash his car, and clean out his garage, you will now be able to speak his secret language.  Just start talking about the peloton and dropping phrases like “lead out man”, “king of the mountain”, and “sprint finish” and you’ll be invited to join him on a century ride before you know it…

You prefer your professional athletes humble and underpaid.

Winners of the Tour de France can become very wealthy - all other riders, not so much.  Unless a rider has won the Tour previously, he’s going to be pretty hungry and very humble.  This makes for great competition.  Throw in dozens of nationalities riding for international bragging rights and you get some pretty interesting rivalries.  You'll even find a few overconfident, boisterous, and sometimes arrogant racers to love or hate.  While you may eventually become envious of their athletic prowess, you’ll never wish you could ride 100+ miles per day, every day for three straight weeks, to earn their kind of money…

You’re warming up to the idea that we Americans could learn something from the Europeans, but you still need to be convinced.

Deep down inside, you know that free medical care, accessible and affordable public transportation, food purity standards, strict environmental policies and other socialistic benefits have to come with a catch, you just haven’t figured out what that catch is yet.  Maybe, just maybe, that catch is acknowledging soccer as a legitimate sport and being compelled into rabid fanaticism.  If you’re not comfortable with swapping football for futbol, maybe it’s time you tried to understand the international appeal of bicycle racing…

You need to expand your appreciation of other cultures.

The TDF is a melting pot of ethnicities with strong national rivalries.  Riders hail from places like Luxembourg, Kazakhstan (no, Borat is not racing), and the Isle of Man.  They have cool sounding names like Thor Hushovd, Edvald Boasson Hagen, and Ryder Hesjedal.  Soon you’ll be calling your dog Linus Gerdemann just because you like the way it rolls off your tongue…

You desperately want to find something to like about the French...

Riders in the Tour de France are part of an elite group of the most talented, skilled, and courageous endurance athletes in the world.  You can drop in at any time and easily become addicted to the speed, the strategy, and the spectacle that makes bicycle racing one of the most popular international athletic competitions.

You can check out the Tour live most mornings beginning at 7am on Versus.  It is replayed throughout the day with an evening edition broadcast on NBC Sports.  Live blogging of the race is available from Versus' website, Velonews, and Cycling News.  There is even an app available for the iPhone and iPad.

 

 

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