pro cycling

Vive le Tour: lose the battle, win the war


Here in the UK, in homes all across the land, a struggle for power is underway.

It’s a clash of ideologies and a battle of principles. It splits families in two. It asks close communities of otherwise like-minded folk to look each other in the eye, rummage around in each other’s souls, and pick a side.

In between, lies the TV remote.

On the screen will be Wimbledon, or the Tour de France.

On one side of the divide are a gentle and thoughtful breed. They’re fond of the most English of all English things; freshly mown grass, Pimms, titanium pigment, and strawberries and cream at £8 a pop.

On the other, the Europhiles.

Not for them the cut-glass presentation of Sue Barker and the black and white rules of some balls, a net, and a set of white lines. Those of us who live for Le Tour exist in the murky grey areas of pro cycling; with its etiquette, its commissaires, and its archaic language.

The rouleurs, grimpeurs, and stagiaries. The flamme rouge and the broom wagon. The king of the mountains. The selfless graft of the team domestiques paid to suffer in service of their leader.

And then there’s the TV presentation of Gary Imlach on ITV; a man with a sense of humour so dry that one well timed raising of an arched eyebrow constitutes the funniest punchline you’ll hear all year.

Or Sean Kelly on Eurosport who, in one, several minute long description of a mid-race feed station, can re-define your understanding of what a sandwich is.

Whichever way this battle goes – perhaps your house is a notional ‘democracy’ and you find yourself outvoted by the once-a-year tennis fans – you can still win the war.

Should you find yourself banished to the spare room with a Eurosport subscription and a ‘device’ then remember; while your family are getting their fill of Boris Becker, “new balls please”, and footage of tennis courts sheltering from the rain under green tarpaulins, you get to watch the cycling in peace.

Vive le Tour.

(Image: By Jaguar MENA [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons)

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2 comments on “Vive le Tour: lose the battle, win the war

  1. geraldhornsby

    Haha! Wonderful, and describes this household perfectly. So it’s Eurosport and a large screen for me, despite the monotonous drone of Sean “The Tour OF France” Kelly.

    Liked by 1 person

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