Sunday, 10 January 2010

Le Tour de France

La Tuilerie Website

Winner 1903Le Tour is a national institution if ever there was one. The whole country gets excited as it winds its way through the highways and byways of this great country. The original Tour was done by a group of sixty young men in 1903 who set off on their bikes from Montgeron (just outside Paris) for a six stage 2428 km race round France, but only 21 arrived back in Paris 19 days later. They had no back-up teams, no following trailers, no spare bikes, you feel hungry, you stop and eat the sandwiches which you have prepared yourself that morning, you get a puncture you sit down at the side of the road and fix it, now that is real racing!

In 2009 there were 20 teams of 9 riders travelling 3459.5km spread over 21 stages and 23 days with 156 finishers. These men are supported by huge quantities of people who feed and water them on the move, give them a new bike when they have a puncture or another technical problem, talk to them through ear pieces to tell them to slow down, move forward, pull over what ever the tactics of the moment dictate to make sure that they and their teams come in with the right number of points, not too many and not too few. There are big bucks these days, not just the honour, sad but true.

Tour de FranceLe Tour starts in a different place each year, but for many years has ended in the Champs-Élysées in Paris. The journey is not a continuous one around the roads of France anymore, Le Tour hops and jumps from place to place, sometimes the riders are bussed and sometimes flown between the finish of one day and the start of the next, thus allowing a number of different routes to be chosen each year. But everywhere they go there is a BIG party. Le Tour transforms the French roads and villages it passes through for a brief but exciting moment in time.

Moving Le Tour outside the borders of France was done for the first time in 1954. Le Grand Départ was in Amsterdam and the first stage was from there to Antwerp. This Tour passed through the streets of Delft on July 8th that year where a little Cees had his first view of the circus that surrounds Le Tour. This coming year (2010) Le Tour will have its Grand Départ again in The Netherlands as it sets off from Rotterdam. The so called “Prologue” will be a race around the city itself and the next day (4th July) the first stage will be from Rotterdam to Brussels.

La Tour de France in CormatinTo travel in a circle around France it is almost impossible not to travel through Burgundy. In 2006, Le Tour came to Mâcon and turned the city upside down as the riders raced up and down the main boulevard in a very exciting finish to the 18th stage. In 2007 Le Tour came even closer to us by passing through Cormatin itself in the 6th stage and in 2010 Le Tour will be just down the road starting the 7th stage on July 10th in Tournus. We have some trusty campers who come every year to stay with us when Le Tour is nearby and who knows maybe we will see all of you guys and gals again and possibly some new faithful followers next summer!

La Tuilerie Website

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