I’m tired, no I’m exhausted, but I can’t help myself. It’s 11.20pm on Wednesday evening and I’m sitting on the couch, laptop on and tea in hand listening to Phil Liggett’s magical voice watching Simon Gerrans and the Orica-GreenEDGE lead the peloton, as they have done for the last 4 stages.
It’s July and my email is buzzing each day as the gents argue about what stage will be best suited to get the boys together for a late night session of The Tour – surely its Stage 18 up the Alpe d’Huez! Thankfully I had a very in depth introduction to The Tour after spending 2 weeks staying at my friend’s house in Canberra who lived with Tour fanatics, in fact Rob was more of a Lance fanatic and we sat up watching him every night. After 2 nights learning about how the teams were structured, what their individual rolls were, that only a handful of guys cycling were actually there to win it and seeing some of the finest sportsmanship I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, I was hooked.
No other sport provides me with such a fulfilling experience. Watching the race is so peaceful, seeing swooping chopper shots of immaculate country side while Phil and Paul tell stories of men marauding and pillaging ancient churches. The amount of knowledge Phil Liggett possesses about this sport is untouchable across any sport. It’s not just his intimate knowledge of the riders and every race they’ve ever cycled in – he may as well be a French historian! Then suddenly I’m jumping off the couch screaming and yelling watching Andy Schleck challenge Contador for the win on the Col du Tourmalet in 2010 (and watching my friend Dom chase them up the hill), and more recently on Tuesday night, watching Australians Orica-GreenEDGE hit the 1km mark at the end of last nights team time trial.
‘Tour Chat’ tends to be the focus of every social occasion throughout July and rightfully so this year. I think Australian Tour fans felt a tad uneasy after stage one with the bus fiasco, I’m sure the world was laughing at us – not any more. It was great to see Stuart O’Grady in his 17th tour last night grab a stage victory and put his team mate Simon Gerrans in the Maillot jaune. Don’t get me wrong I’m proud of Cadel, unfortunately I missed the majority of his win in 2011, but this year is extra special with an Australian team who has made a remarkable start. As Gerrans donned the yellow jersey on Tuesday night he thanked his team but also his first coach, Phil Anderson, the first Australian to ever wear the same jersey – a fabulous moment for Australian cycling. Orica-GreenEDGE pipped Omega Pharma-Quick-Step by 0.75 of a sec to claim the stage victory and give Gerrans the overall lead. Team Sky’s Chris Froome finished in the best placed of the favourites in seventh, three seconds behind Gerrans whilst Spain’s Alberto Contador was 12th, six seconds further back.
Updated Today (Thursday)*
Last night’s stage (the second longest of The Tour) was ridden sublimely by the Australian’s again, after sprinter Matt Goss fell behind on the final climb (and with it their chance of the stage win) the team fought hard to stay with the breakaway group, protecting Gerran’s and his position at the of the General Classification leader board. Orica-GreenEDGE now sit 1,2,3 in the General Classification. This is a long, long race and we’re yet to see a serious mountain stage, however as a team, Orica-GreenEDGE have shown their experience and class, representing Australian cycling with bright colours and it’s not to be missed so get amongst it gents!