A spectacle I'm happy to watch from home

Published 8:44 pm Monday, July 26, 2004

By Staff
Arthur McLean
Ah, the Tour de France is upon us. It is arguably, the most grueling, longest lasting, grandest and dangerous single sporting event we have.
It also happens to be one of the worst spectator sports around. And this comes from a guy who likes professional cycling.
Unless you've had your head buried in the sand somewhere, you're probably aware that American Lance Armstrong is making his bid to be the only rider ever to win six Tours in a row.
Having won five, even without ever having cancer, is a spectacular accomplishment in itself. In more than 100 years, only five men, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain, have won the tour five times. Only the Spaniard Indurain won it five times in a row.
Of course, given the French love of all things American, the French press is going crazy. Ever since Armstrong started winning, there have been published allegations of drug use -performance enhancing drugs- leveled at Armstrong.
I'm excited about the tour this year, though I can't watch it on the Outdoor Life Network, because I really can't justify 50 bucks every month for about 30 channels of average to sub-par programming. At least until college football season starts. Now there's your spectator sport for ya.
Sorry. Back to the Tour. For those who've only seen clips on your nightly news broadcasts, you really should tune in. There are actual cycling broadcasters who know what they're talking about and understand what's going on. No Bob Costas garbage (you'll get plenty of that with the Olympics), but good sports calling.
You'll soon appreciate what these men are doing on those mountains.
The tour is also unique in that you don't have to buy a ticket to see it. Find yourself a good spot along that day's route, break out the lawn chair and you're set.
But you won't see me rushing to buy an airline ticket for that treat anytime soon. At least not just for the cycling.
Here's the breakdown. You get your spot, get sunburned waiting for the riders to pass your spot. Then you say the following things in roughly this order. "I think they're coming. I think I see them. I think that's Armstrong. Get your camera ready. Here comes Armstrong, there he goes."
Whew! Well, that was exciting. How about a little more Brie and Bordeaux while we wait for the traffic to clear.
Arthur McLean is the editor of the Atmore Advance.

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