The 2009 Tour De France started last 4 July and ended last Sunday, 26 July 2009. It is considered as the world’s most famous and prestigious cycling event of the year. I will not bother to tell you about the results as you already know them from the news stories. I will not also bother to tread on my personal analysis about the performance of Lance Armstrong and about his future as an athlete or his possibility of winning in future cycling events.
For the past three weeks, I’ve been regularly watching the Live Telecast of the daily stages through the Eurosport Channel. The following were my observations and insights about the said event:
1) Scenery of the Route—By watching the Live Telecast, you seem to be a part of the cycling tour. You seem to be a “tourist” also as you got to see the cities/communities where the route would pass through. I’ve been observing a lot of details along the route like the architecture of the houses and buildings as most of the structures are made of concrete & rocks. The structures made during the Middle Ages and castles were preserved and maintained in their original structure. Even the roads are well paved with asphalt with the proper paint-markings and almost all the roads are very clean and well-manicured. I’ve never seen a single trash or even a trash bin along the roads even if they are inside the towns or cities. The scenery of the mountains and their forests were very refreshing. Watching the Tour on the TV was an experience of being a “tourist” in France, Italy, Spain, and other countries where the event was conducted.
2) Cycling Apparel/Uniforms & Technology—If you want to see the latest in cycling technology and cycling apparel, the Tour is the best place to see them. I was impressed on the uniform of each team which is well color-coordinated with the other accessories like sunglass, helmet, shoes, gloves, socks and even the color of their bikes! I wonder how many set of jersey cycling uniforms each participant has for the 3-week event. In order to gain speed, the bikes to include the helmets, had become lighter and air-resistance-proof. Even their “cycling form” and jerseys are very unique in their Team Time Trial and Individual Time Trial in order to shave off few seconds from their time and fight air-resistance. What made me laugh was an observation made by one of my runners in my team when he said that there are no “not so good-looking” cyclists in the Tour! Lahat daw ay puro guwapo!!! hahaha!
3) Excellence In Endurance and Logistics—These endurance athletes are really good in their sports and they really trained well for the event. I remember when I was in my younger years, the Tour was a competition of the best cyclist in each country being invited by the Race Organizer and the pride of the said country was at stake. However, the competition later transformed into corporate team competition and I could see how millions of resources/funds had been used to finance each team and their support/logistics that follow each cyclist. In the last Individual Time Trial, I saw Lance Armstrong threw his $ 300 worth Oakley sunglass while trying to gain more speed as the frame of the sunglass was obstructing his sight. Cyclists would threw their plastic water bottles on the side of the road after there is no water left in them! If there is a flat tire, a support vehicle & mechanic are ready to respond to the problem in few seconds. If a worse problem is ever present to a bike, the whole bike of the cyclist is immediately replaced! In the ITT, each cyclist was provided with a support car with bikes stacked on its top rack. Everything was so perfect that you could see how the logistics people do their job efficiently. I wonder how much is the registration fee for each team to participate in this Tour.
4) Discipline & Applause Of The Audience—All the spectators were in support to the cyclists as you see them shouting, cheering and clapping their hands as the cyclists and “peloton” pass them. You don’t see anybody from the spectators throwing a pail of water to the cyclists or offering some food along the way. Of course, you see some of those spectators running with the cyclists in the mountain stages but they don’t distract the route and it is already a part of the practice of encouraging the cyclists to push some more! The cars of the spectators were all parked away from the street or road where the Tour passes. Even the Starting and Finish Lines are free from spectators. However, you can not avoid some accidents or “lapses” during the Tour as some of the spectators would be involved in accidents which even resulted to death. Last July 18th stage, one of the spectators was killed by a speeding Police Motorcycle Marshal when he immediately crossed the road where the Tour was passing through.
How I wish these personal insights and observations about The Tour will be translated or applied to Running in Road Races in the Philippines.
(Note: Photos were taken from www.boston.com/bigpicture.)