29 July 2007

Nothing new under the sun (cycling division)

The Tour de France is undoubtedly one of the great sporting events but not for the first time in recent years it has been hit by scandal (see Michael Rasmussen, Alexander Vinokourov etc). However, French sportswriter Francis Thmoazeau reminds us that there really is nothing new under the sun.

The Tour de France came close to being permanently cancelled was in 1904 ( its second year of existence) when some riders cheated by taking the train or hitch-hiking. The four leading riders were disqualified. The race's founder, Henri Desgrange, was so appalled he nearly threw in the towel, but gave the Tour one last chance. The reprieve went on for another century. In 1924 the Pelissier brothers quit the race in Normandy, summoned the press to a cafe and showed them the pills they claimed they needed to meet the rigours of the Tour - strychnine, cocaine and other unidentified stimulants. Let’s not forget British cyclist Tommy Simpson whose death during the 1967 Tour was in no small part due to drug consumption.

There have been calls in France in recent years, especially after the “Festina affair” in 1998. Scandal or no scandal though, the Tour is still enormously popular: just look at the crowds that turned out for this year’s prologue in London! Crowds still line French roads hoping to catch a glimpse of the race. While the Tour does need to sort itself out (as does the world of competitive cycling) would you “destroy La Scala because the tenor sings out of tune?”

It may take a lot of reform but I am sure the Tour is here to stay. Those who want to look back to a “golden age” of the tour are a bit like those who hanker after a sweeter England (with the crack of leather on willow etc, in that they hanker after something that never quite existed. It doesn’t mean that it can’t exist in the future though.


beakerkin said...


Cycling would be more fun to watch if they had to dodge random alcoholics and unpredictable cute forrest creatures.

The above is a joke.

Now I wonder what happens when someone in the tiddly wink or scrable circuts start taking steroids. Hmmm that Mrs Wright seens to have gained three hat sizes and now has an army of latin based words.

I am still waiting for the impact
of steroids on Monopoly? Will board board games ever be the same.
Will the fun be taken out of Skiball or Shuffleboard next.

jams o donnell said...

There are plenty of ways to make sports interesting but Cricket and (American) Football are perhaps beyons salvations.

Taking steriods in tiddlywinks mat be counter productive - can you imagine the overshoots and the broken bits?

elasticwaistbandlady said...

I'm a big supporter of anything that involves hot men wearing bicycle shorts.

beakerkin said...


Now I think that is funnier that steroids and scrabble

jams o donnell said...

Hmm, note men and shorts? I better not admit to that or someone would imagine I was catholic!

Steroids and scrabble? can you imgine the fights over disputed words? who would then need fight clubs when you have full contact nerd action!