The Finish Line

I wait aside the finish line in Paris. The 2012 tour is a mere twenty minutes away from completion, its 99th incarnation capturing the hearts of many a hardened fan, and also enticing those with merely a scrap of interest. Bradley Wiggins sealed a historic first in British cycling folklore, sealing the tour in exemplary fashion. Never looking in trouble throughout the three weeks, Sky’s air of control never wavered.
A thunderous roar erupts around the finish line of the Champs-Elysees stage as Mark Cavendish holds aloft four fingers as he seals yet another dynamite win on the famed central parisienne cobbles. And with that ultimate display of power, the tour over for another year, and thus our lives bereft of daily antics on ‘les routes fran├žaises‘. Riders roll across the final white line to close the curtains on our french adventures. 
How odd a feeling it must be for these riders, for the race to be over. I think about the spectrum of emotions they must be experiencing today, and I can read each and every one on the various faces of the peloton as they meander around the technical zone.

It must be strange that after living so closely with eight other riders, and a nucleated support staff for the three weeks, the riders will leave this environment and return to some semblance of reality, whatever that may actually entail for a professional rider. I see happy faces, a Cofidis rider beams at me proudly on a backstreet as he rides to his hotel. I spy Mick Rogers, as he congratulates several riders ahead of the processional laps. He looks across and I offer him my broadest smile, as if telepathically thanking him and the peloton for their feats that fed my passion as a cycling fan this summer. I don’t doubt I just looked like a grinning loon, but my respect for these gents is fortified every time I see their suffering in real and tangible sphere. They are but humans, with emotions, pain, a willingness to push their own boundaries of suffering. 

A day before in Chartres, I find myself mingling with fans as Alexandr Vinokourov rolls through. A loud cheer erupts in recognition for what will certainly be his last tour. A chequered past foreshadows him, sure, but the respect shown from the fans is palpable and deafening. Every story needs hero’s and villains, and the tour is a theatre not exempt from this. 

I see faces that display the realisation dawning on them of their endeavours. I see pride, relief and I sense determination. I think I see faces that are already thinking to the next goal. The next hit of this circus.

The finish line is always such a melancholy place for me, tinged with sadness that its over for the next year. Sure enough, there’s the Vuelta, and a slurry of late season races (Lombardia in particular is a fave) but it just seems like nothing can quite capture the magic of pro cycling like the Tour can. I remember 5 years ago being laughed out of the office for asking to watch the tour at my workplace, this year I walked in to pretty much every flatscreen dialled onto the live coverage daily. Oh how times change! Here’s to the 100th Tour de France in 2013… I know I will be ensconced in your bubble yet again

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Dunedin, NZ Bound

At the end of the month, bianchista is being posted for a 2 month working trip to New Zealand to cover the Rugby World Cup 2011. Il be situated in Dunedin on the south island for a month, before heading up to Auckland to rendezvous with the remainder of the editing team to work the last 4 weeks.

I will be taking my bike (although which one is still to be decided!) and il be looking to ride on most days, bar the big game days. Should you be local to the area and fancy showing me the very best of your treasured local routes, please do drop me a line at the email address above. Also feel free to ping any garmin route files that may be of interest. Im currently digging out a plethora of warm fleece-backed lycra in anticipation of temps in the 4 degree range eek!

Apologies…

Bianchista has disappeared underground so apologies for the serious lack of updates. This past week saw me assigned to cover the royal wedding in Monaco which was hard work but rather fun. I hung out and fired some remotes and put in a hefty editing shift, so im just about back in the land of living after a mammoth 13 hour drive back from the millionaires playground. I saw a handful of cyclists, looks like a damn fine place to ride! Anyway, hang tight for some updates, il be back in the swing of things from now I promise…..


Should you be interested, check out the images from Getty of the marriage here