I, like many other people, have a job. It involves a fair bit of time looking at a computer.
Conveniently, my computer contains a thing called ‘the Internet’. You might have heard of it; it is the single most miraculous/damaging invention in human history.
On this ‘Internet’, if you look in the right places you can find people who are more than happy to keep you up to date with the progress of the Tour de France. I didn’t ask them to, they just do it.
All I have to give them in return is a digital footprint containing more potentially commercially exploitable information than most of us could even begin to imagine.
Seems a fair swap.
So, for a portion of the day’s stage, I find myself compelled to keep abreast of events. But it’s a knife-edge balancing act. I want just enough of the news to get a feel for the day’s racing, but not so much that it ruins the evening’s highlights show.
So, by mid-afternoon today, I was all over the fact that Steve Cummings was in the break; not a spoiler, it was going to happen eventually, and Cav already gave me the ‘heads-up’ earlier in the day.
Next I was fully up to speed with the ascent and descent of the Col de Mente – which will forever be the Crème de Menthe to me – and was nodding appreciatively at sprinter(ish) Michael ‘bling’ Matthews getting over the climbs as a fully functioning member of the front group.
(My increased respect for him counter-balanced nicely by that ridiculous nickname.)
But from there, I felt sure that once the riders started climbing the Port de Bales – a monster of a Pyrenean climb –the real action would begin. I waited until Steve Cummings had launched his trademark solo attack from 30 kilometres out, and then I implemented my own personal media blackout.
But then, as ocassionally happens, something so momentous happened that it seeped through anyway; in the subject line of a stray email, an accidentally viewed tweet or, in my case, a reckless colleague.
I am so in tune with pro cycling that the information seeks me out, whether I want it or not.
“I see Froome lost his Yellow Jersey” was blurted out across my workplace before I had the chance to la-la-la-hands-over-ears and get the hell out of there. I wouldn’t mind, but none of my colleagues could give two hoots about the Tour de France.
Considering all the talk of a Froome procession to Paris, this was indeed momentous news.
I clutched at straws.
‘I don’t know how he lost the Jersey,’ I thought to myself, wondering whether the Cummings break-away had been so epic that he’d won the stage by an hour and a half and taken the race lead.
As it happened, for Froome, it was a simple case of “didn’t have the legs.”
Unfortunately, neither did Cummings, as Roman Bardet attacked the steep summit slope to win the stage, with Aru close behind and now wearing Yellow.
It appears we’ve got a race on our hands. And possibly a rivalry. I’m considering playing it super-safe for the next few days. The sensible course of action is surely to quit my job, and watch the race live in it’s entirety.
I just can’t risk anyone spoiling my excitement again.