Ok, for three weeks i’ve held back, i’ve abstained, the urge has sometimes been unbearable. I’d wake up in the middle of the night dripping in sweat
after hideous nightmares of missed opportunities, of what I should have done…………I know you have all been trying to distract me, hoping to wean me off my hopeless addiction, and I thank you, but one little post won’t hurt surely, I can control it, after today there will be no more (at least until 2010)
These ARE exceptional circumstances after all, because
A BRITISH CYCLIST IS IN 4th POSITION IN
THE TOUR de FRANCE!!
This is not unusual, it is UNHEARD of!!!!
Going into the last stage of the race (the ride into Paris on the last day doesn’t count, it’s just a procession) Bradley Wiggins OBE is only 15 seconds behind the 7 times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, and 5’ 36” behind Spain’s Alberto Contador, the 2007 Champion and surely, barring accidents, this years winner.
As eccentric former Eurosport commentator David Duffield once said “It could be all over bar the shouting, or until the fat lady sings.”
Wiggins has won Gold medals at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 as well as Gold in the 2008 World Track Championships, but road racing is a very different discipline, especially in the Classics, and until this year success on the road has proved more difficult.
Even if he didn’t complete the tour, Wiggins’ performance will go down in history as one of the best by a British rider since the Scot, Robert Millar won the King of the Mountains competition and overall 4th place in 1984.
Today’s (Saturday) stage will finish on the summit of the fearsome Mont Ventoux in Provence, the first time in the Tour’s history that a mountain-top finish has been followed by the Champs Elysees conclusion to the race.
“You get two thirds of the way up and it’s all rock, with weather that can be steamy hot or freaky cold and super windy,” said Chris Carmichael, Armstrong’s coach. He did the climb in the 1986 Paris-Nice race. “There’s a middle section with an 11 percent grade after you’ve already been climbing for six miles, then another three-mile section at 11 percent before it goes down to seven percent.”
Poet Rene Char called it “the mirror of the eagles.”
Riders call it the mirror of agony.
“It’s unending. Interminable. Every time you go round a corner you think it’s over but not even close,” said TV commentator Paul Sherwen, who rode the stage three times in the Dauphine Libere. “With the heat reflecting off the rock, it pushes up to 100 degrees. It’s a scary place.”
Tim Lewis of The Observer wrote:
When Eddy Merckx won the stage to Ventoux in 1970, he reached the summit and gasped, “No, it’s impossible!” Soon after, he collapsed and had to be given oxygen.
Tom Simpson (30 November 1937–13 July 1967)
Friday 13, 1967 was the 13th day of that year’s Tour de France and racers were tackling the treacherous 6,000ft (1829m) Mt Ventoux.
In the searing heat Tommy Simpson began weaving across the road before slipping off his bike.
After ordering onlookers to, “Put me back on my bike” Tommy continued only a short distance before he collapsed and lost consciousness.
He was airlifted to a local hospital but never regained consciousness and died later that day.
Tommy Simpson’s death shocked participants and those involved in the race, but it was the discoveries after his death that shocked the world.
An autopsy showed that Tommy had traces of amphetamines in his blood. Investigators also discovered more of the drugs in his hotel room and the pockets of his jersey.