Watching the Tour de France pros a real treat

Oxford Mail: Honour Tomkinson Honour Tomkinson

Summer is in full motion and each year it seems to bring more and more sporting events for both amateur and professional athletes to take part in. There are so many to choose from that it’s enough to make a healthy sportsperson keel over from exhaustion.

Almost everyone I know is running for a good cause, cycling for victory and there are the odd fitness freaks who like to participate in gruelling all day events appropriately titled Ironman triathlons. Me, I do a few little cycling charity events but then I like to sit in front of the television and watch the pros show us how it is done, saving my much needed energy for the tea making activities in the advertisement breaks.

Of course the event that always catches my attention is the Tour de France and it was a double whammy for GB cycling fans this month with the first stage beginning in the centre of Leeds. Annoyingly for those of us who share a slight rivalry with “the other place” stage three of the route went straight through the centre of the city of Cambridge on its way to London. To top it off the leader of their council announced “it is with great pride that the cycling capital of the UK will welcome the world’s elite sporting cyclists.”

Well, we have to admit their track record for accommodating cycling as a form of mainstream transport is much better than Oxford’s and now they can add the greatest cycling event in the world to their hat. No I am not bitter.

But what a race we have seen, with an exciting start right here in Blighty and two consecutive GB winners in the past two years. I really had high hopes for another GB win but the event has been marred with injuries and crashes afflicting our riders. With the royals and the political leaders of England looking on Mark Cavendish was injured in a crash in the first stage wiping him out of the race, we then lost the defending champion Chris Froome after three crashes, leaving us with only the hope of a team Sky victor with Australian Richie Porte.

I am always told by those in the know it really is a team race not an individual’s one, but it’s hard not to keep your eye on the Maillot Jaune (yellow jersey) statistics when you are used to seeing a GB rider winning the general classification two years running. With the majority of the exciting mountain stages and the individual time-trial to come there is still plenty of spectating to enjoy.

And if spectating is not enough and you want in on some of the action there are still bike events in Oxford to participate in.

Bike Oxford in September has circular 20 mile, 50 mile and 80 mile routes to choose from, and with just under two months to go enough time to train for a personal challenge. Find out more at bikeoxford.co.uk The British Heart Foundation’s Oxford to Cambridge is also in September. See bfh.org.uk. You can sign up from your armchair and then sit back and follow Le Tour till its finale in Paris on July 27.

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