Chasing the ghost of the Tour de France

Otto I. Eovaldi
By Benoît Hopquin

Posted on June 10, 2022 at 05h14

It is been like this each and every July because 1903. The Tour de France takes more than French roads and its ridiculous cyclists acquire a wicked enjoyment in jogging in excess of neighborhood people’s toes on their extremely have doorsteps. The peloton passes like a twister with the audio of ball bearings and derailleurs, the breakaway crew rushes by with the satan on its again, the sprinters hurl toward the complete line like a bunch of drunks on a barge, the lone rider struggles up the slope, the stragglers remaining behind like wounded soldiers, condemned to the humiliation of the broom wagon.

And then there are the brilliant jersey colors, which can be witnessed from afar. Scarlet crimson, brilliant blue, apple green, flashy orange. And of course yellow, the most well-known coloration. There are so numerous pictures that truly feel like summer people’s events, holidays, pastis, camping tables and, over and above all that, joy.

The joy, certainly. The joy of currently being clustered in roadside ditches, feeding on crayfish in the solar, shouting “Les v’là!” (“right here they arrive!”). The pleasure of applauding the previous as perfectly as the initially and shelling out tribute to the very essence of the activity: the energy. It is also a somewhat French joy, demonstrating the planet its very best side, a real land of milk and honey. Mainly because the France of the Tour is lovely, even if there will always be one thing Disney-like about this sequence of postcards that the countrywide television sends to the total world.

We skip just one Tour and almost everything is gone

The thirty day period of July is the time of harvests and bouquets. In the previous, there experienced only been the two world wars that could end this good circus. Bicycles had to be put away between 1915 and 1918 and hung up all over again among 1940 and 1946. A bicycle does not weigh considerably as opposed to a tank and a peloton would crash when faced with an military.

And, on a fiery, blood-soaked planet, what are emphatically termed the “dramas” of the Tour de France – punctures, falls, starvation pangs, bronchitis, gastroenteritis, boils or urine contaminated with doping merchandise – can only look for what they are: figures of speech, inflated with bicycle pumps. The legends of cycling, pricey to Antoine Blondin, or the convicts of the road, magnified by Albert Londres, observe from the sidelines when the nation is on hearth and soaked with blood.

A war, we fully grasp. We acquire a bow. We make do, or relatively we make do without having the July road carnival understands. But that a microscopic virus, as round as a hub, that Covid, number 19, could arrive and disrupt the excellent bazaar of the Tour? That, we would under no circumstances have considered. Having said that, in 2020, the Tour de France had to be postponed to September since of the fatal pandemic. A health evaluate, eminently comprehensible, indispensable even. But a July with no the Tour leaves a gaping gap. Without the Grand Boucle (Excellent Loop), we were going round in circles.

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