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Tour de France: How hard can it be?

The Tour de France is the toughest road race, and cycling is the hardest sport in the world, just ask anyone whose attempted a 200km ride. No other sport in the world compares to riding a bicycle for 20 stages, except of course being dedicated enough to watch the entire tour? from Australia.

We can all agree the riders do a mighty fine job. Though let’s not forget that they at least get to race in a time zone that they have adapted to.

Australian fans will still have to go to work, make small talk with their significant other, perhaps even take a child to school, call their mother, do the dishes, cook dinner, wash the car, be alert at work, maintain a good working relationship with coworkers, not fall asleep at their desk, still meet monthly sales targets and be responsive in client meetings.

The riders in the TDF have it easy? right? Um? No

Lance Armstrong is playing down his abilities. Alberto Contador has said the race will be won in the Pyrenees, not the Alps? I had no idea there was a difference and since he’s climbed more mountains than me, we’ll take his word as gospel.

You’ll hear a lot about Cadel Evans and Andy Schleck along the way, expect big things from these men, they have power that us mere mortals only dream of. For those of you who don’t know when these deciding stages will take place, the Pyrenees start at stage 14 and for 4 days the riders will go up!

I’m not a huge fan of mountain stages. I’ve climbed some small mountains and it hurts so I don’t even want to know what these riders are going through. I feel sorry for the sprinters though, some of these guys are the heaviest in the peloton and it’s hard to push 70-80kg up a mountain.

While mountains are far from easy, any good cyclist will tell you, mountains build character.

To stop yourself from falling asleep before the start or end of a stage, I suggest getting a hold of an indoor trainer, the fancier the better. This device will allow you to ride ‘with’ the peloton and experience their pain. When the peloton begins to climb, I expect you to throw on as many gears as possible, you must ‘share’ the work and ‘feel’ the pain.

Do expect your caffeine consumption to go through the roof and to keep your calories as low as possible, its best to switch to espresso whilst the Tour is on as it has fewer calories.

Taking a look at the sprinters, in particular and most importantly Mark Cavendish (Cav), Cav is reminiscent of a young Armstrong, which suggests he will chill over time, and he’ll get better with it. That’s what happens when you’re a champion.

Thor Hushdov is after his 3rd Green Jersey, the sparks flew between Cav and himself in 2009, and there is no reason why it won’t happen again. Mark Renshaw is Cav’s partner in crime over at HTC-Columbia; he could be the man for the Green if Cav doesn’t step up to the plate come July.

Truth be told, this writer only cares about Cav’s result and his journey for the Green Jersey.

As I’m sure you’re aware, Australian backpackers have infiltrated Europe, Asia, North America, South America and Africa and you can bet your bottom dollar that we’ve also got ‘our people’ in the Tour, not just Cadel Evans.

You should all have at least three Australian riders that you will support, during the Tour, you should learn all their statistics and know exactly where they are at all times, and whether or not they receive support from their team.

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!

Be prepared to experience some backlash from your loved ones. They may not be as interested in the Tour de France as you.. strange, but to make it easier, carefully prepare a list of appropriate discussion topics for your loved ones, these topics should be simple, the simpler they are the less long winded the conversation will be and that means more sleep for you.

Phrases like, “I love you”, “You’re the best” and “I’m glad I married you” will be beneficial to your relationship, use them.

Thou shalt not commit to any evening activities.

If you have no alternative, you should declare that you have a migraine and must go home, this will make you look soft in front of friends and family. Suck it up! The Tour only comes around once a year and there are 343 other days left in the year to see family and friends.

Special thanks to SBS Television for once again providing fascinating commentating from Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwan. Phil and Paul probably know more about France than the French. If you’re looking at travelling to France in the future you would be advised to record the Tour so you can take Phil and Paul with you on your travels, especially if your plan is a cycling holiday. They will be there to push and motivate you on your journey through the Pyrenees.

You can watch Mark Cavendish riding the Tour on SBS ONE, Cav will start riding on the 3rd of July and hang up his bike on the 25th of July. The prologue (stage 1 for the uninitiated) is being broadcast at 2:30am, you’ll need coffee for that and your trainer. Two days of rest have been scheduled, if you need more then you’re advised to reconsider your abilities as a cyclist.

On a more serious note, if you can’t hack the pace of watching it live, SBS ONE has provided a soft option with daily updates at 7:30am and 6:00pm, SBS TWO will have highlights at 8:30pm every day and if you’re a real cyclist you will watch all the updates and the live broadcast… anything less than that just isn’t good enough.

I don’t know who’s going to win the White Jersey, the King of the Mountain Polka Dot Jersey, or the Yellow Jersey, but, I suggest you all eat well, drink plenty of water, dress warmly and sleep through your lunch break.

has contributed this article to Bicycles Network Australia.
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