The Tour de France is as much a parade of chaos as it is a bike race, a testament to the P.T. Barnum maxim, “Nothing draws a crowd like a crowd.” And this year’s version was masterfully set up, from a media perspective, by the release of the Netflix documentary Unchained.
Back in the Red Kite Prayer days, when I first hatched the idea for this Friday poser, we would often sift through race predictions. Back then, a lot more of us were paying attention to the pros. That Netflix took on the Tour for a docuseries though, suggests that enough time has passed since our collective “estrangement” from pro cycling to make the topic somehow topical again.
Is it? Are you back? Are you at least curious? Those are secondary questions.
I, for one, am following this year’s Tour with keen interest. Part of that might be nostalgic. The Tour and pro racing generally were once big parts of my life. Part of it might just be still loving the parade of chaos, trying to sort out what’s happening at any given moment, and needing something inconsequential to talk about with my cycling friends.
To whit, in the first week of the Tour there were debates to be had about whether either of Jasper Philipsen’s stage wins were legitimate and/or sporting in their execution. The pre-race narrative about the GC, basically that either Tadej Pogacar OR Jonas Vingegaard would take the top podium step, was upset by the flying performances of some other contenders. Every stage has offered intrigue, like the chapters in a fast-paced mystery novel, where the question isn’t, “Whodunnit?” but rather, “Who CAN do it?”
So this TCI Friday, let’s do the throwback thing. First, are you paying attention/do you care? And more importantly, if you are and do, then who is going to win this thing and how are they going to do it?