Am I the only person in the UK who isn’t apopleptic with delight at the prospect of a British winner of the TdF. For the first time in the Tour’s 107 yr history a Brit finished the race in The Yellow Jersey, it’s all over the front page of every newspaper in the land (including – unbelievably – The Daily Mail, that’s never, as far as I’m aware, had a single good word to say about cycling/cyclists). And I don’t give a shit.
It dawned on me over the weekend as people who know me – cyclists and non-cyclists alike – have been greeting me with big smiles and expressions of wow, isn’t it great? And I’m struggling to find the enthusiasm to crack a smile. I am, it cannot be denied, a miserable old curmudgeon. I have the kind of droopy middle-aged face skin which makes it look like I’m scowling even when I’m happy. But that aside, you’d imagine that, as a Cyclist this would make me happy. But it doesn’t make me happy.
The trouble is this: I was once in love with The Tour. I watched it every day – and the highlights on a rest day – and for twenty years I harboured an ambition to one day join the throngs lining one of the mountain stages. As someone who’d survived testicular cancer I watched Lance destroy the competition year after year from the edge of my seat. I was a fan.
Fignon, Hinault, Delgado, Lemond, Indurain, Millar, Pantani, et al. I was a devoted fan. I loved the heroism of it, and I loved the heroes. And then it all went to shit. Year after year I watched as the drugs scandal after drug scandal slowly ruined my sport. It became harder and harder to feel any joy in it. I tried to stay true but, like anyone in a romantic relationship who is lied to, whose lover cheats on them and, however deep the feelings, eventually, slowly, inevitably….. I fell out of love.
In recent weeks it has been announced that the US Drug people haved banned Armstrong from competition and are bringing charges against him. That was the final straw.
So last week when Wiggo was doing well, and then when he looked certain to win, and even when it was inevitable – I simply couldn’t bring myself to watch it. In my heart it’s broken
So well done Brad, great guy, worthy winner. But for me – it’s just too frickin late.