Cycling: Esprit de course
France always finds reassurance in the ritual of its great bike race. But rarely more than this year
Friday 14 July 2006
It's been a traumatic week for France, the disappointment of losing to Italy in the World Cup final paling by comparison with the anguish caused by the behaviour of its favourite sporting son, Zinedine Zidane. Against this backdrop, the Tour de France offered some comfort, its role in French national life still vital, if not quite what it was in the race's golden age of the 1950s and 1960s.
Like every Tour, the 2006 event has been a hymn to the glory of the French landscape as it has made its way from Strasbourg round to the Pyrenees via Belgium, Normandy and Brittany, with the Alps yet to come. But this year also marks a new beginning. Seven-times winner Lance Armstrong retired after his final triumph last year, and although a pre-race clear-out of more than 50 riders on suspicion of doping - including four leading contenders - cast an all-too familiar shadow over the sport, it did at least create the most open contest for nearly a decade.
The French could even dream of their first home-grown winner since the great Bernard Hinault in 1985. Sadly for them, the leader going into Bastille Day today is... an American.
And why are 'southern' ways of speaking spreading north?
life + styleClarissa Baldwin is the brains behind the slogan 'A Dog is for Life not just for Christmas'
Latest in Sport
Arsenal 2 Hull City 0 match report: Superb Arsenal march on at the top as Nicklas Bendtner gets back among the goals
Liverpool 5 Norwich City 1 match report: Luis Suarez tears Norwich apart once again with four goals and an assist
Manchester United must win 'an awful lot of games' if they are to retain the Premier League title, admits David Moyes after Everton defeat
Manchester United 0 Everton 1 match report: Roberto Martinez pulls off elusive victory that eluded David Moyes
Manchester City sign the 'new Lionel Messi' Brahim Abdelkader, and in doing so put one over Barcelona
- 1 Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
- 2 How black gold was hijacked: North sea oil and the betrayal of Scotland
- 3 A forgotten episode in Russian history leaves links with the Philippines
- 4 Scientists sequence oldest human DNA from fossilised leg bone found in Spain
- 5 ‘Put it in my mouth’: Viewers outraged by apparent reference to oral sex in VIP e-cig advert
£80000 - £100000 Per Annum fantastic benefits + bonus + car allowance: Clearwa...
£90000 - £120000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Global Director of Infrastructur...
£230 - £300 per day: Charter Selection: A leading Further Education College ba...
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Java Developer - J...