It was a crush behind the barricades as the final stage of the Tour de France made eight laps around the Arc de Triumpe down the Champs Elysees. What a sight! IT WAS CROWDED. And many were drunk. Unfortunately I was not one of them. I’ll know better next time…
Chris and I arrived early enough to get a front row spot on the barricade. I have the bruises to prove we held off multiple 'attacks' from fans 6 rows deep.
The Official 2009 Winner of the Tour de France is Spaniard Alberto Contador, (winner in 2007, too), riding for Astana along with teammate Lance Armstrong (who finished a respectable third). At only 26, Contador is capable of beating Armstrong’s record 7 Le Tour victories. I guess that level of competition and testosterone explains the bad feelings between the two champions. CNN story: I will never admire Armstrong.
Interesting Tour Factoids:
- The second Tour de France, in 1904, saw riders desperate to win cheat by using trains and cars. Some rabid fans placed nails in the road in front of rival riders.
- In early Tours, riders were known to stop for a cigarette and whiskey in a pub to refresh themselves during a stage.
- The only time the Tour has been cancelled was due to the World Wars.
- In 1975, Belgian rider Eddy "The Cannibal" Merckx (considered by many to be the greatest cyclist of all time) was attacked and beaten by a French fan of a rival rider. Merckx remounted his bike and went on to finish the stage.
What a great experience! I may even get out my old bike, the one with coaster brakes and only one gear...