I have never been interested in bike races until last year when we watched a couple of days of the Tour de France. I was totally blown away by the beautiful scenery that these guys rode through. In the end we watched the last two weeks of the race in which the Aussie, Cadel Evans won. I couldn't wait for this years race to watch it again.
Here in South Australia we have the Tour Down Under that is held in January of each year. The first year they held it we went into the city and watched them ride around the streets of Adelaide. Then a couple of years ago we went and watched it again as Lance Armstrong was here riding and it would most probably be his last time to ride. He had previously won the Tour de France 7 consecutive times after beating testicular cancer. Even though he has been drug tested many, many times and always passed, he is now under scrutiny as allegedly being a "drug cheat".
I always thought that the Tour de France was a free for all, where everyone rides for themselves and the best rider wins. Each day is what they call a stage and if you won that day you accumulated points and at the end of the race the one with the most points won. That is not how it works.
This is how I understand it to work. There are teams and each team consists of nine riders and there is a team leader. He is supposedly the one that could win the Tour for his team and so all the other riders ride to protect him and try and bring him to the front to get a better time than the other teams' leaders.
Each team also has a sprinter and a rider who can ride in the mountains. All the riders in the team help each other when the time comes, ie to get the sprinter to the line first or help the mountain rider get to the top of the mountains.
Making up these teams are riders from different countries. This year a rider, Bradley Wiggins (UK), from Team Sky is currently the favourite to win the Tour. Making up that team are also a couple of riders from Australia. Cadel Evans rides for the BMC team. He too is an Australian and last years winner but this year he is currently in 4th place, over 3 minutes behind Bradley Wiggins.
Spectators line the route each day and apparently the two Aussies from Team Sky are getting abused and shouted at by Aussie spectators for not letting Cadel Evans get in front of Bradley Wiggins. Now this is just not on! These riders are only doing what is required of them. A few days ago one idiot spectator threw a flare at Wiggins and it burnt him on the arm.
Funnily enough in a couple of weeks it will be the Olympic Games. These Aussie riders in Team Sky will be team mates of Cadel Evans in the Olympics and suddenly these yobbo Aussie spectators (if they are going to the Olympics) will be cheering for them.
Today on Stage 14 the riders had climbed the last mountain and were ready to descend and ride to the finishing line when the unthinkable happened. Some moron threw tacks on the road. The first one to puncture his tyre was Cadel Evans. Another 25 or more riders also ended up with punctures with one rider crashing and had to be taken to hospital with a broken collarbone.
Also affected by these tacks were the motorcycles who ride alongside the bike riders either giving out bottles of water, having the photographers or television cameras on the back, and some of the teams cars. One motorcycle rider crashed and ended up with a broken leg and arm. They reported that some 48 wheels had been punctured by these tacks.
Points are accumulated for:
Green Jersey - sprinter, there are points for designated sprints during the course
Polka Dot Jersey - king of the mountain points are awarded to winners at designated climbs
White Jersey - best young rider
Yellow Jersey is the Ultimate Jersey to win
The winner with the best time wears the Yellow Jersey. Wiggins has been wearing this since Stage 9.
What an amazing gesture by Bradley Wiggins and the other riders. That is true sportsmanship!!! I'm still cheering for Cadel to win the Tour but if Wiggins happens to win I'll be happy too. We can class him as part Aussie, his father is Australian. I don't know if his father is still alive but Wiggins is British.
Photos have been taken from news web sites