If, as anticipated, Bradley Wiggins becomes the first Brit to win the Tour de France, his success will have been achieved with significant Australian assistance. And he will have finally reversed the curious path that road cycling had followed for decades in the United Kingdom.
Many Australians will be disappointed that Cadel Evans was unable to defend his yellow jersey. It was always going to be difficult for the Australian. At 34 years of age, he was the oldest winner of the Tour since the Second World War. Only 13 riders have won back-to-back Tours, although six of them - Louison Bobet, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain and Lance Armstrong - did it more than once.
Evans also had an interrupted season and some bad luck during the three-week race.
Cleanskin Australian cyclist Cadel Evans had finished runner-up in both the 2007 and ’08 versions of the Tour de France. After a disappointing 26th in 2010, his hopes of ever winning the thing looked cooked. But the 34-year-old Victorian, who was born in the NT, finally tasted champagne and glory on the Champs Elysees on July 24, 2011.
Australians have been tuning in to SBS’s Tour coverage in increasing numbers in recent years, if only to watch glimpses of the French countryside flashing by while drooling over Gabriel Gaté’s delectable dishes.
This year we watched not just as interested onlookers but as fans. As mad barrackers for a gritty little Aussie giving it his all, in an event which is truly one of the grand fromages of world sport. It was a ratings bonanza for the “Soccer, Boobs and Soccer” network, with over five million watching in total and a whopping metro share audience of 32.6 per cent on the final stage.
Latest 2 of 14 commentsView all comments
The Herald-Sun Tour is Australia’s oldest cycling stage race. As a child, I recall watching the Tour riders travel through the small country town of Rosedale in Gippsland where I grew-up. Sometimes there would be an intermediate sprint in the town. On other occasions we would watch the riders racing up the ridge adjoining our property.
The Tour marked the revival of competitive cycling after the Second World War.
For the first half of last century, track racing and one-day endurance events dominated the cycling calendar. Track racing was extremely popular, as thousands of people flocked to the wooden velodromes to witness closely fought races.
Latest 2 of 18 commentsView all comments
There has been some debate over the last few days regarding how excited we should be that Cadel Evans won a bike race.
First things first… can’t we just enjoy the moment and soak up the celebrations before these arguments kick off?
His celebratory champagne had barely stopped fizzing before our collective joy was being rained upon.
Latest 2 of 48 commentsView all comments
Cadel Evans’ heroic performance at the Tour de France is being celebrated around Australia, as it should. I’ve been watching the Tour for a long time, and it’s the best individual sporting performance I’ve ever seen.
Over the past three weeks, between the wee hours of 10pm and 2am, Evans has bought together the previously estranged cycling fans and those who have never ridden a bike to jointly applaud his guts and determination, his enormous heart and never-say-die attitude. All qualities we Aussies love and admire in our sports heroes.
The response has been wholly positive. Almost. Despite Evans’ epic win, some media commentators have still felt the need to roll out the tired “well, I guess this means we have to put up with more lycra-clad clowns on the roads” line.
Latest 2 of 235 commentsView all comments
Yesterday, on TODAY, Mia Freedman showed antipathy towards the Tour de France and its Australian winner, Cadel Evans.
She said she didn’t care, and put forward the idea that maybe he wasn’t a hero to everyone. Ms Freedman followed the interview up with a blog post on her site, Mamamia, explaining she’d been thumped with heavy criticism and cruelty online as a result.
Mia reiterated her stance that she, personally and publicly, doesn’t think sporting achievements make for heroes, and that for her, a hero is someone who toils at their own expense to better the lives of others.
Latest 2 of 391 commentsView all comments
Reckless P-platers have often thrown bottles at Cadel Evans when he’s training along the Great Ocean Road near his home town of Barwon Heads, Victoria. Maybe they’ll think twice now, just in case that anonymous lycra-clad figure on the road is a Tour de France winner.
Evans’ Tour de France triumph represents a massive day in Australian sport. Bigger than the America’s Cup victory in 1983. Bigger than anything Pat Cash, Greg Norman or Lleyton Hewitt ever did. Bigger than any of Ian Thorpe’s swims and bigger, yes, than Cathy Freeman’s 400m run in Sydney.
This was not just a victory in the world’s largest annual sporting event, but a victory for everything that we value in Australian sport.
Latest 2 of 138 commentsView all comments
Australians have dreamt of winning the Tour de France for a century. Of all the world’s great individual sporting contests, it has until now remained outside our grasp. Edwin Flack claimed gold on the track at the first modern Olympics; our swimmers regularly beat the best in the pool; and our track cyclists often have dominated the velodrome. But until now cycling’s greatest challenge has escaped us.
Ever since Don Kirkham and Snowy Munro contested the twelfth running of the ‘Grand Boucle’ in 1914, Australians have returned to France in search of victory. Kirkham, a 27-year-old dairy farmer from Carrum in Victoria, had won the Goulburn – Sydney classic in 1910 and 1911 before venturing to Europe three years later.
Munro, also from Melbourne, rode a world record time to win the Warrnambool to Melbourne road race in 1909. Riding over the rough, unmade roads of France, the pair of Australians impressed the locals with their endurance. They eventually finished 17th and 20th respectively before returning to Australia to escape the ravages of the First World War
Latest 2 of 30 commentsView all comments
It is a cold, dark evening in wintry Melbourne. As the peak hour traffic thins, a group of cyclists gather at one end of the Kew Boulevard.
Within the space of a few minutes, a group of 50 to 60 riders have gathered for the weekly ‘Tour de Burbs’ – an hour and a half high speed dash through the eastern suburbs adjacent to the Yarra River.
With flashing red tail lights, they set off, reaching speeds of up to 50 to 60 km/h. At the rear are a few 15 and 16 year olds, light as jockeys, but already capable of staying with the older group. As they ride, their dreams are half a world away with the stars riding in the Tour de France.
In the world of professional cycling, the rainbow jersey represents the pinnacle of achievement. It is awarded to the winner of the World Championship each year. For ever after, the victors are entitled to wear the rainbow colours on the collar and armbands of their racing jersey, a lasting reminder of having been the best cyclist on the globe in each event.
This week’s World Championships in Geelong are special for Australians. Not only is it the first time that the event has been held down under, but the Australian, Cadel Evans, is the defending champion in the blue riband event, the elite men’s road race.
The championships have drawn the best field of cyclists to Australia since the Sydney Olympics, and none more so than the three-time winner, Oscar Freire. The diminutive Spanish sprinter burst onto the world stage when he finished second in the under 23 road race championship in 1997. Two years later, he claimed the elite event at Verona. He repeated the feat in 2001 and 2004. Since then he has won a series of events, including the Milan-San Remo classic thrice and the green jersey for the leading sprinter in the 2008 Tour de France.
Latest 2 of 10 commentsView all comments
Australian cyclist Cadel Evans has the yellow jersey smack on his back but the question is: will he crack or will he stay tough to claim this year’s Tour de France?
If he can ride into Paris, retaining the colour he has aspired to wearing most of his life, Evans must overcome his greatest opponent - himself.
After stage eight on Sunday, Evans survived a fall, injuring his shoulder and wrist. And to everyone’s amazement, Evans gritted his teeth through his pain and finished the mountain stage in sixth place and shot to the lead in the overall standings.
Latest 2 of 39 commentsView all comments
In July 2006, I was standing in a queue at Charles De Gaulle airport with my wife and daughter when I heard a slightly high-pitched, Australian voice behind me.
Looking around, I recognised the man whom we had watched the day before finish fifth in the Tour de France on the Champs-Elysees.
He was later elevated to fourth in that first “post-Lance” tour after the winner, Floyd Landis, was disqualified for using drugs. It was the best result ever for an Australian, eclipsing Phil Anderson’s two fifth placings in La Grand Boucle.
Latest 2 of 20 commentsView all comments
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The Woolwich attack victim's identity has been revealed, http://t.co/1Mw4lxDr1c
Peter Costello was slow to recognise Tony Abbott's economic mastery but his near wholesale adoption of Labor's Budget has swung him at last.
Shots fired at a coal seam gas protest in Tara, Qld this morning, http://t.co/bQpLhosjbh
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…