Although most people are watching this year’s Tour de France to see if Lance Armstrong can make history by winning his sixth consecutive title, I’m more impressed by the way his team, U.S. Postal Service, protects its champion, drafting him, blocking for him, and aggressively setting the pace and the tone for each stage. If he gets his record sixth tour title, he will not have done it alone.
I’m fairly new to the whole concept of stage racing. I’ve always tuned in, but didn’t really know what to watch for. To tell you the truth I was more excited by the crashes in the sport highlight reels than the breakaways and chases. But I’m slowly catching on with the help of Whistler’s own Will Routley, who I’ve been covering for the sports section this year. This is Will’s first year racing as part of a team (www.symmetricscycling.com) and it looks like he’s already been selected to represent Canada at the Road World Championships. It’s not quite the Tour, but it’s still a big deal.
The Tour de France started on July 3 and will wrap up on July 25 after covering 3,390 kilometres of brutal French roads – high mountain passes, narrow cobblestone streets, you name it. It seems that spectators line every inch of the course, which only goes to show just how popular this event is.
To follow the Tour de France properly this year, you might want to bookmark the following sites:
Le Tour de France – www.letour.fr/2004/us/index.html
This is the English language version of the official tour site, with daily updates and commentary, rider profiles, analysis of strategies and stages, weather reports, daily standings, daily gaps, pictures, videos, and even live radio broadcasts.
Outdoor Life Network – www.tsn.ca/oln/tour_de_france/
The Outdoor Life Network is broadcasting this year’s Tour de France live every morning and a repeat every evening for the duration of the race. Times change daily, so check their listings to find out exactly when to tune in for each stage of the race.
U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team – www.usprocycling.com
Find out more about Lance Armstrong’s bid to break history and the riders that are helping him along the way on the team’s official Web site. Good interviews and analysis of the various stages.
InfoTrends, a technology research group, predicted that more than 53 million digital cameras will be sold around the world in 2004, about 15 per cent higher than last year. Moreover, they expect those sales to continue to grow to 82 million units a year by 2008.