Forget the cycling, it's the Tour de Pigeon
Wednesday 29 June 2011
It's the Tour de France without the dope testing. In a desperate attempt to restore the flagging fortunes of the sport of pigeon racing, the elite birds of France embarked on their own 13-stage race around France this week.
The first pigeons set off on Monday from Lille to Fresne-le-Plan for the 12-day race, with stages of up to 125 miles. The route takes the pigeons in a rough hexagonal shape around France. Since pigeon racing works on the principle that the pigeons will always find their way home, each stage must be taken by a different team of pigeons.
"People hear the word pigeon and they thing of something filthy that gets in the way in the road and makes everything dirty," said Sandra Wambre, a race official. "But homing pigeons are athletes; they're much more robust and muscular."
The main cycling Tour de France begins on Saturday covering much longer distances – although at a slower pace than the 110mph speeds of the top birds.
Pigeon fanciers offer a variety of explanations for the downturn in interest in their sport. Some put it down to increases in the cost of living; others say people just don't have the time.
- 2 Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent answer to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
King Salman: Just five days in, Saudi Arabia's new king has already overseen a beheading
Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
Amal Clooney gives excellent answer to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Mafia's wall of silence broken: Victim of Cosa Nostra's extortion rackets in its Corleone heartland co-operates with authorities for the first time ever
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...
£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...