Sunday 8th July 2012
TOUR de France: so many metaphors: man against the elements; fortune favouring the brave; the uphill struggles to summits of achievement; Everyman, I will go with thee… from Slough of Despond to Castle of Perseverance.
Although a British rider has never won the race, one of this year’s favourites is Bradley Wiggins, from London. He wears the yellow jersey, following a gruelling finale to the seventh stage: the long ‘category 1’ ascent to La Planche des Belles Filles.
He should retain the lead after tomorrow’s time trial. Tuesday’s a rest day.
When starting this journal, the intention was to write every day for a year. On passing that landmark, the legs just carried on pedalling. This is entry number 461.
The middle of next month sees my 62nd birthday: far from ‘king of the mountains’ status, but a personal best. If I’m still seated, that’ll be a couple of days after passing the 500 mark.
During the sixth stage, a crash took out half of the peloton. How those with deep wounds can ride on to the finish is beyond me. You have to be taken to hospital with several broken ribs or something like a ruptured spleen before you’ll quit.
“We were going at maybe 70kph and there was a crash on a big road – when it’s that speed you can’t really avoid it. I don’t think I have anything broken. Just some pain in my shoulder, some pain in my hip and we’ll check my knee. If there is nothing broken I will be there tomorrow,” rider Fränk Schleck tells the press.
Meanwhile, writer Marcus stays in bed till noon because he has a cold.
Another thing I love about Le Tour is the team-work: the selfless slog of les domestiques; how medics and mechanics lean out of car windows to repair moving cyclists or cycles; that you can give a rider a helpful shove when he remounts after a fall.
Each of these entries starts with a four-letter word: 430 different ones so far. It’s getting harder to come up with openings. Anyone got any good ideas – just to help ageing bones stagger up these remaining slopes…