Saturday, 28 June 2008

Tour de France 2008

It is almost Tour de France time and again I'm excited about the race, especially when the riders hit the Pyrenees (stage 9, 10, 11) and the Alps (stages 15, 16 and 17 - including Alpe d'Huez this year). There's only one problem... I don't know who to cheer for.

As I'm not a roadie and TdF is the only race I follow I have established an annual pre-Tour ritual; I buy a copy of the TdF edition of Bicycling magazine ( and spend an hour or three reading through the information on the stages, teams and riders. I like to see which stages have the big category climbs, what the team jerseys look like (so I can recognise them on the telly) and who the big contenders in each team are. I also like to check out the altitude profiles and to be told by those in the know which stages I must not miss. I'm disappointed by Bicycling's offering this year.

The TdF section starts with nice colourful region maps (Brittany, Massif Central, Pyrenees, Mediterranean, The Alps and To Paris). They do say which stages are must-see and which riders to watch. But, they don't give a summary of each stage and there are no (absolutely zero) altitude profiles.

The TdF section continues with an interview with Robbie Hunter (my fingers are crossed that he wins another stage this year - his win last year was so exciting that I almost fell off the treadmill at gym!) and an interesting piece (2-pages) on the Barloworld team logistics - what they have in their team bus, the team vehicles (what's inside, how many bikes on the roof). Very interesting. Then there are another two features (Team Astana's exclusion from this year's Tour and Team Slipstream.

I'm missing their usual display of team jerseys, brief on riders in the team and who to look for in each team and a prediction on the overall race favourites, and why. Yes, I know I can scout for this online but I like to get this in the magazine. I'm also not sufficiently dedicated to cycling to track down each team's website to read about the team; I want this information handed to me by this specialist cycling publication. I don't feel any more informed about this year's event than before I'd bought the magazine.

What this actually makes me think about is why magazines are still around, when we can get all the content we desire from the internet and online magazines. It's simple: people like to turn pages; flip backwards and forwards; laze on a couch reading a bit here and a dash more there; and they revel in content on a specific theme. That's why online books are not as successful than paper and ink printed books...

I'm now grouchy because I haven't yet had my pre-Tour fill and especially that I'm forced to turn to the internet when I had an indulgent magazine (non-computer) afternoon planned. Bicycling SA will be hosting a TdF section but it currently has 2007 content (Arrrrggggghhh!). They'll probably be updating during the week as the Tour starts.

Of course there is the Tour de France website ( and they have the route descriptions and profiles stage by stage.

I can also recommend following Chris Carmichael's daily TdF postings through his website at - they're addictive reading. These will start when the Tour starts.

About the riders... two of my favourites last year, Vino and Rasmusen, were out because of doping and missed testing respectively. I'm a big Robbie McEwan fan and George Hincapie, but neither are overall contenders. So, I'll wait for the race to start before choosing other favourites.
And I only hope they my selections will not be busted as naughty doping boys this year...
Le Tour starts on Saturday, 5 July.

No comments: