With British cyclists winning the Tour de France for the last two
years, all eyes will be on the 2014 Tour to see if British riders can
make it a hatrick. Will Chris Froome or Bradley Wiggins pull it off
again? Or will the 101st Tour be won by an Australian rider, or an
American rider? Or even – as was so often the cas in the past
– by a French rider?
And will the event be
marred again in 2014 by doping scandals? Hopefully not; in 2013, 443
blood texts were carried out on riders before during and after the
race, and none tested positive for forbidden substances such as
steroids. Is it safe to say that the age of riders pumping
performance-enhancing products is now over?
Now in its second century, the "Tour" goes on,
and it is difficult
to imagine how it could not. This mega sporting event is worth millions
of Euros in advertising, sponsorship and worldwide television rights,
attracts millions of spectators, and is one of Europe's great media
For the hundreds of thousands who turn up
to line the route, the cycling is actually only a tiny bit of the show:
While the time-trial races may offer a more long-drawn-out cycling
experience for spectators, with competitors taking part one by one, on
normal race days the riders may go past in just a minute, especially in
the earlier part of a day's leg, before the participants have become
more spaced out. But then, the actual race is just a small part of the
show. Starting some two hours before the race, the "Caravan" is a
cavalcade of floats, decorated cars and other vehicles that moves along
the route, throwing out goodies and free samples to the spectators; it
is a massive advertising stunt. The advertising caravan, made up of the
Tour's official sponsors, is followed by a long line of official cars,
technical vehicles, media and motorbikes, lights flashing, horns
sounding, all warming up the spectators for the actual event itself.
Then, at last, the riders come by - and are gone again as quickly as
they appeared, pounding uphill or downhill at speeds that can reach 50
mph or more. A bit of an anti-climax.... And with that, the day's
excitement is over.
Anyone wanting to watch the race
in a serious manner would be well advised to do so on television; but
for a day's outing, with all the fun of the crowds, the waiting, the
caravan, and the atmosphere, watching the Tour go by is as good as many
other events, and what's more it's free.
The Tour can
be watched all over France, and each year the route is different,
taking in at least one leg in another country.
If you go to watch the Tour, specially with kids,
care! Don't let children stand too close to the road, and never cross
the road while the caravan is passing.
Tourists wanting to book holiday
accommodation along the route are advised to do so early.
Click here for holiday cottages
for bed and
Visit the Official
of the tour de France
Tourist attractions in
France, by region :
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