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Re: TdF 2019 General Discussion
« on: July 10, 2019, 19:36 »
Fascinating few days. :D

Neighbour calls up my wife last week and asks if I want a VIP pass to the Grand Départ. He had earmarked the weekend to do some decorating and otherwise had no interest in a free buffet or, as the Belgians disconcertingly call it, a "walking lunch".

Well, as a loud-and-proud fan of our sport, I could hardly let the side down, could I? So I gave up my one free morning of the week for sleeping late and I went over there to this swanky art gallery where it was all kicking off.

As it transpired, I felt I had to pass on the free booze because it was rather too early for my delicate palate and, after learning that my pass still wouldn't let me into the teams area, I was worried about getting a good spot in the compound.

The Norwegian girl with the microphone here, she asked Naesen a couple of questions in German. He politely replies he doesn't speak it and she can't understand why not. He fills her in. I'm not German, he clarifies, I'm Belgian. I'm thinking it's the sleeves. So she continues in English and you can tell he wants to get away. What I would have asked him is why all the branding is coming off the shorts. It was obvious with Fränk in Suisse or the Dauphiné, I forget, and now poor Oli looks like he's wearing last year's kit too. Only it's last year's kit that's been through the spin cycle fifty times at fifty degrees. Pro it ain't.

Couple of hours later some tourist kid asks me downtown why there are all these barriers about. I tell him it's the Tour and he asks me what that's about and do they really need to close off the roads for it. Evidently this portly lad needed to get out more and I told him as much.

Next morning I wake up bright and early again to collect the keys to a friend's apartment from a well-known media figure who's been staying there. I'm still bleary-eyed after shooting the breeze with him for a bit when I think I just witnessed ex-Bora fugitive Manxman Peter Kennaugh jogging past. He's got to be twice the size, quite bulked up and, I later discover, training for triathlons. What hasn't changed a bit is the way he goes totally red-faced under effort, otherwise he's quite nice looking, really, for such an opinionated parochial sort. However, nobody but nobody can be as debonair as this fellow:

I am always oddly jealous of the pros when I see them riding on roads I'm not allowed to ride on. All weekend they were doing just that, just sliding off the nice little routes I regularly follow and on to the autoroutes and sliproads with the smoothest asphalt in the country, indeed the only smooth asphalt in the country. You want to tell someone, anyone, what a tough little climb that is or why that part of the canal road is a deathtrap with passing vehicles but it's really something only another cyclist would understand.

Monday morning my colleague asks me if I saw it, of course I did, and he adds that he was inspired to ride 17km himself. And, I think, that's really the point. It's not about the free lunches, the fawning over Eddy Merckx or all "that business sh*t" the media figure was complaining about. It's good enough for me if other folks get out on a bike.

Job done well, Le Tour.  :P
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  • « Last Edit: July 10, 2019, 19:56 by L'arri »
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