I met two guys during this year’s Tour de France who have been covering the race for 32 years – journalist Francois Thomazeau and photographer James Startt (two unconnected meetings, but coincidentally they are the best of friends). Two weeks later I am starting to think about how it is that I can lay on my sofa for hours on end every year for 3 weeks, making sure I don’t miss a minute of the Tour de France.
These days I consider myself a ‘cycling fan’ because I can happily devour all sorts of different races, but in the beginning it was definitely all about the Tour de France, and, like some of you who are my ‘vintage’, it started with Lance Armstrong.
The first Tour that I sort of followed was 20 years ago – 2001. I was in France in July that year, cycling with Shoko, and we would see the Tour on the TV in village bars and cafes throughout the country. I vaguely knew that Lance had won a couple of Tours before and that he was a big favorite this year. That’s about it.
Back in Japan I started buying a few books about the TDF and, although I couldn’t watch it on TV (partly because I didn’t have a TV), I read live text updates of each stage late at night. I think I just answered my sofa question above…if I could ‘read’ the Tour de France and still enjoy it, ‘watching’ would be pretty easy.
And then it all progressed from there and the Tour de France is even one of the reasons I’m in France.
You are not all fans like me, but some of you are. What was your first exposure to Le Tour?