12 July 2017
This is your last Tour de France. It is actually your last race. At the Champs-Élysées you will ride your final kilometres as a professional cyclist. This is your fifteenth Tour de France. It is the race where it all started for you. Because of that, you thought that it would be a nice honour to also end it here.
I remember the fifth stage in the Tour de France of 2004. You went in the breakaway with five other riders. The group was able to stay away and gained a couple of minutes on the peloton. You did not win that day, but you did claim the yellow jersey. No one thought that you would hold on to that jersey for so many days. You survived the Pyrenees and the whole of France started to believe that there was a possibility that you could actually win that Tour de France. But in the Alps you could not follow the best climbers of the peloton and you had to give up on the ‘yellow dream’.
Afterwards, you became a national hero in France. The French people saw the next winner of the Tour de France in you. Although you never came close again in the next few years, the fans never gave up hope. In 2009 you won your first stage in the Tour de France, in 2011 you even wore the yellow jersey again for ten days and just missed out on the podium in the final classification. In 2012 you claimed two stage wins and went home with the polka dot jersey.
That is only the Tour de France, I did not even mention the other beautiful wins in your career. Two times national champion of France, victories in the Critérium du Dauphiné and Paris-Nice, winner of the Brabantse Pijl.
Although you were not always loved by the other riders in the peloton or some of the cycling fans, you made it clear during your career that you were on of the most important French riders of your generation. I hope you will enjoy the rest of this Tour de France. If you get the chance in the mountains, make sure you will place a typical ‘Voeckler’ attack, so we can all enjoy that one last time.
Aren’t the sprints exciting this year?
You just never know which rider is going to win.
Cavendish has some serious competition this time around.
He only won two sprints until now, the other sprint stages
were won by Gerrans, Greipel, Sagan and not to forget Marcel Kittel,
who already won three stages and even wore the yellow jersey.
Still, it’s not the pretty boy from Germany who wears the green jersey.
You don’t have to win many sprint stages to wear it.
In fact, in the year 1988 a Belgium rider won
the green jersey without even winning one stage.
Jean-Paul van Poppel, the Dutch top sprinter at that time,
won four sprint stages in that Tour de France,
including the one with the finish on the Champs-Élysées.
Then what was the reason that instead of Jean-Paul van Poppel,
Eddy Planckaert took the green jersey home with him?
Van Poppel, also called ‘Popeye’ because of his impressive muscles,
won the green jersey in 1987 and hoped to repeat this the year after.
Still, you need more than just four victories to take the green jersey home.
You need to sprint at the right place and the right time.
You need to be smart and also collect points before the finish.
The Belgian sprinter Eddy Planckaert knew this very well.
He knew that the intermediate sprints were also very important
and gained a lot of points in these sprints during the various stages.
After many years of trying he finally won the green jersey in 1988.
This was also the only time he actually finished the Tour de France.
Beforehand, he had never been able to accomplish this,
mostly because of the hard stages in the mountains.
Eddy Planckaert never gave up and kept on sprinting for green,
which not only led to winning that famous green jersey in the Tour,
but also to seeing the streets of Paris for the first and only time.
Eddy Planckaert / © Graham Watson
6 August 2010
There’s one thing that will stay with me after the Tour de France of 2010.
All the waving from the riders.
Into the camera, that is.
I always wondered whom they were waving to.
Their mom? Dad? Girlfriend?
Kids maybe? Grandma?
To their biggest enemy? Or old friend?
‘Look at me, I’m riding here and you’re sitting at a desk from 9 to 5!’
It’s actually quite funny the riders even had time for it,
because most of the waving was during a mountain stage.
The last thing you want to do is wave when you have to climb, right?
Well, not this year I suppose.
There was a lot of waving.
There was ‘the nodd’ from Lance Armstrong,
Hincapie did a quick wave,
Linus Gerdemann gave a lovely smile,
Andy Schleck did it, even Alberto Contador waved one time.
There was the waving of Bouet when he couldn’t follow the leading group.
He looked into the camera, his hand waving a bit, like he was saying:
‘Why are they riding so damn fast?’
One rider didn’t do it just once.
No, Alexandre Vinokourov waved at least four times into the camera.
Like it was his second job.
First a smile, then a wave.
He even did a thumbs up to Alberto.
Wherever Alexandre was, there was waving.
I guess the waving is a part of the peloton.
It’s a greeting to home, to fans or just for fun.
Ofcourse there is always someone who has to do it better than the rest.
Lars Boom had the guts to “wave” at a very special moment.
He was in full speed in the peloton on the Champs-Élysées.
A camera aside the road, the peloton passes,
he sees the camera and there it was.
It only lasted one second,
but that was good enough for me.
Yes, Mark Cavendish won,
but to me Lars Boom was the rider of the day.
Vino though, was the absolute #1
of the Tour ‘10 in the category “waving”.
Posted in Column
Tagged Armstrong, Boom, Bouet, Cavendish, Champs-Élysées, Contador, Gerdemann, Hincapie, Schleck, Tour de France, Vinokourov
♫ Joe Dassin – Les Champs-Élysées ♫
“Aux Champs-Élysées, aux Champs-Élysées,
au soleil, sous la pluie, à midi ou à minuit,
il y a tout ce que vous voulez aux Champs-Élysées.”