Tour de France Column by Toby Miles - Why I love 'Le Tour'
PUBLISHED: 15:09 10 July 2018
Read Toby Miles' Malliot Blanc Column as the 18-year-old aspiring professional cyclist explains why he loves the Tour de France.
Every year since becoming fascinated by pro cycling aged 13, I’ve watched from the start of the live broadcast of ‘the Tour’s’ first stage, intending to watch only the early exchanges, before returning later.
After the bouncy ITV4 intro music - which I’ll never tire of - blasts out for the first time and presenter Gary Imlach’s wry smile appears on screen, I’m already on the edge of my seat.
So there I sit, for hours, soaking up the newly released top-end kit, modelled by athletes in the form of their lives, as they fly towards the first drama of the race.
It’s a unique buzz around during the Tour - it’s all about the anticipation. The World Championships, the Giro, they’re hotly anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed, but the intensity for those three weeks in July is unbeatable.
It’s because there’s more on the line. The prestige of a win grows with every edition, it’s yellow jersey becomes more iconic. With 104 editions done, the Tour is a monster. It’s long history of being cycling’s main event mean it will never be overtaken.
For all 176 riders at the start, this was the race they grew up knowing was The Big One. With unrivalled sponsor pressure, media attention and fan expectation, the atmosphere in the peloton is like nowhere else.
Those factors mean the racing often isn’t as entertaining as other races. Riders are more cautious and spend more time trying not to lose the race rather than win it.
But pure racing action is not why we love the Tour. Smaller races might have more pure action but the consequences aren’t massive.
A bold attack in the Tour can define a career. Every move must be calculated. So when a dramatic moment comes in France’s race, it’s monumentally exciting.
The anticipation for those moments is electric enough.
My first book about cycling was the ‘Official Treasures of Le Tour de France,’ which I’d found in Oxfam.
I was blown away by the history on its pages and it was my bible until I’d studied it all. Through the unending literature about it, the Tour taught me how to love cycling.
The 2018 Tour is going to be a fascinating edition, with heavyweights galore lining up. Can Chris Froome do the double? Will the old guard of sprinters continue to be ousted by young guns like Fernando Gaviria?