Yesterday morning in glorious sunshine I spun out around Formentor on the bike. Along the way I passed the Hotel where Team Sky base their winter training camp. I spent much of the spin contemplating both how well Mallorca caters for cycling and how Team Sky have stamped their authority all over the past two editions of the Tour de France.
Upon my return I joined my family by the pool and began to read a book on the kindle.
Kate, 6 looked over and asked :
‘What are you reading about there Daddy?’
I replied ‘It’s a book about Chris Froome, the winner of last years Tour de France’
‘They have a Crisp Room at the Tour dee France ?’
I smiled at her innocence.
But then, I wondered if her innocence was an example of how I should be watching the Tour dee France.
She finds excitement and enjoyment in the smallest of things. Her view of the world is still made up of all the magical colours of the rainbow. Black and white have not yet registered.
Grown up scepticism, telling yourself that it’s just being realistic and facing up to the truth, places a dark cloud over the pure enjoyment of how a sensible adult watches modern sports, especially cycling and especially the Tour de France.
I wonder what it would be like to dismiss all journalistic angles and agendas. After all, dramatic negative headlines sell more newspapers and get more views and clicks than any good news story. I wonder what it would be like to suspend all knowledge of past doping transgressions to the depths of my mind. I wonder what it would be like to give every single rider on the start line of the Tour a clean sheet starting today. I wonder if all that Chris Froome says in his book is true, and if it is how spectacular his performances really are. A resting heart rate of 29, a brutal training regime, a strength of mind and will that overcomes all obstacles in a quiet, gentle manner. Maybe he is the real deal, and if so, how unfair is it to condemn him ?
As a teenager my favourite time of day during my favourite time of year was 6.30 each evening for most of July. I sat glued to every second of the half hour Tour de France highlights programme on Channel 4 with Phil and Paul, Gary Imlach and Richard Keyes. The excitement and enjoyment that I got from that brief snapshot of the Tour each evening was the highlight of my year and made me want to ride my bike every second for the next 23 1/2 hours until it came on again.
Nowadays, we have live all day coverage on Eurosport and TG4. We can dip in and out of the days stage as it happens and then watch the highlights again that evening. Imagine what that access would have been like for that teenager.
This year I am going to watch the Tour through innocent eyes once more. I will cast aside all doubts and take every days performances at face value. I will enjoy each and every stage for the amazing sporting spectacle that it is and will be inspired to ride my bike even more from watching the best in the World ride theirs. And if there is a yellow ‘Crisp Room’ on the Champs Elysee at the end of it, that’s fine too.