The Tour de France begins again tomorrow. That means long afternoons slumped on the sofa watching the coverage on TV, and squeezing in some time out on our bikes racing up the local hills.
For both of us, the Tour came onto our radar through Channel 4’s coverage in the 1990s. Given our love of all things Italian, it’s no surprise that our attention was grabbed by the climbing exploits of the late Marco Pantani. In hindsight, his mountain attacks may not have been entirely down to his own efforts, but at the time he was exhilarating to watch. He had style, and his way of riding seemed less calculating and “efficient” than other riders who raced to limit their losses in the mountains and make up the seconds time trialling.
In any case, it is to the mountain stages that we are drawn. All the more so as sometimes the Tour passes through a place we recognise from trekking holidays. This year the route has been made extra mountainous which, happily for France, will suit the best French riders who can climb but aren’t so good at time trialling. Hopefully that will make for a more exciting race than some years.
We will be rooting for our man Vincenzo, but will settle for a close and thrilling race whoever wins. For our own re-enactment of the King of the Mountains competition we have the climb up to the Glengarry viewpoint or the climb from Fort Augustus up General Wade’s Military Road to the Suidhe Viewpoint. The latter is a beast, and when ascending it a couple of days ago we were caught in a thunderstorm. A very epic feeling!
Wherever you are, we hope that you enjoy watching the race and use it as an excuse to get out on your own bike.