Simon Usborne: 'My hope is that residual fitness will see me through the ride and up the 4,000m of serious climbing'

Cyclo-therapy

A A A

So, I'm told there are a couple of semi-important football matches taking place today. And a game involving ladies who are good at tennis. But we're not that interested, are we? The World Cup and Wimbledon may be their respective sport's grandest contests, but for real heroism, grit and – let's face it – controversy, we must turn to the Tour de France, which starts today in Rotterdam.

I'm fascinated by professional cycling but know relatively little about the three-week Tour, arguably the most physically demanding of all athletic events. So while I can't offer predictions or insights into team tactics (I'll leave that to our sports desk) I can watch in awe and, for one day at least, pedal in the tyre tracks of the greats.

The Etape du Tour, as any keen-ish road cyclist will know, is a giant sportive commonly known as the amateur stage of the Tour de France. Every July, usually when the pros have a rest day, as many as 10,000 riders of varying abilities assemble for the same mountain stage that Armstrong & Co will tackle a few days earlier or later.

Last year's Etape took in Mont Ventoux, one of the most fearsome climbs in the sport. This year, I'll be back in France, tagging along with a contingent of amateurs from Sky, as the Tour celebrates 100 years of mountain stages with a daunting 112-mile route in the Pyrenees that finishes at the summit of the cloud-scraping Col du Tourmalet.

This year's ride will be an experiment of sorts. As I reported from a field last week, I've been off the bike for days after pushing my knees to their limits during the 1,000-mile Ride Across Britain, an epic, nine-day slog from John O'Groats to Land's End that tested the will and bodies of all 600 participants. I made it – just – but the injuries I picked up mean that, on the start line in the Pyrenees, I'll barely have turned a pedal since I reached Land's End.

My hope is that residual fitness will see me through the ride, and up the 4,000m-plus of serious climbing involved (so, about half an Everest in a day). Will my knees hold out? Will the saddle sore that dogged my end-to-end effort blow up again? I'll be sure to let you know. In the meantime, I'm off to watch the footie – from a sofa.

s.usborne@independent.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pillar 1, 2 & 3) Insurance

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pilla...

Manager - SAS - Data Warehouse - Banking

£350 - £365 per day: Orgtel: Manager, SAS, Data Warehouse, Banking, Bristol - ...

Web Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – Up to £43k

£35000 - £43000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Internal Project Manager - Business Analyst, Financial Services

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: One of the best known and most pr...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment