The roommate and I started watching The Tour de France back in the days of the (now discredited and disgraced) US Postal team dominance of the tour with Lance Armstrong (circa 1999). Despite all the doping controversy in the sport of bicycling, the Tour has remained our July tradition. Normally we watch the replays, but today we have an extra day of vacation for the July 4 holiday, I’ve had the joy of a leisurely breakfast and watching the Tour live for a change.
In 1999, I couldn’t have predicted that I would have been able to talk even semi-intelligently about any sport, let alone the Tour, which has basically four different sub-races going at the same time. There’s the overall race (the yellow jersey), the sprinters’ competition (the green jersey), the king of the mountains (the polka dot jersey), and the overall team standings. There’s also a white jersey competition for best young rider, which is where you can see the new talent that will be dominating the general category in future years.
Today, Peter Sagan took the stage win today despite his cleat slipping out of the right pedal during the final sprint. He just clipped back in and kicked in a secondary sprint with a level of composure that made it look easy. The two-time world champion has become something of a favorite in the house because he’s generally charming in interviews and fun to watch race.
Nathan Brown took the polka dot “King of the Mountains” jersey from his teammate Taylor Phinney, which really won’t get going until the mountain stages of the race. They’re both Americans. Rooting for people from your own country, no matter where they are in the standings is very traditional for the Tour. There are only three riders from the USA on the tour this year, all on Team Cannondale-Drapac. (The third is Andrew Talansky.) This, of course, means that we’re rooting for Team Cannondale-Drapac this year (despite being a Specialized bicycle house.)
It wasn’t a sprinter day, so there were no real changes to the green jersey, which Marcel Kittel took yesterday.
Geraint Thomas took the Yellow Jersey yesterday and maintained it today for Team Sky, but that will likely not stay. Team Sky’s General Category contender is actually Chris Froome, so it’s not unexpected for Sky to ‘let’ Geraint Thomas ‘lose’ the jersey (so to speak.)
With a little luck, I’ll be able to get my own cycle out this afternoon and do a little riding of my own. As much fun as watching the Tour is, ultimately it’s my own time on the bicycle that’s the best of all.