Tour de France

Cadel Evans from Victoria was the first Australian to win the Tour de France in almost 100 years (since 1914). Evans raced the 2011 tour under the radar, never more than one bicycle length behind his rivals, he was always present with an albeit small lead.

Evans during the parade on Champs-Elysees avenue

‘This is a hell of a race. You should believe in these athletes and you should believe in these people. I’ll be a fan of the tour de France for as long as I live. And there are no secrets – this is a hard sporting event and hard work wins it.’ – Lance Armstrong

I know there has been a lot of negative press about Lance Armstrong. When thinking of the tour, Armstrong (USA) who won it 7 times, from 1999-2005, comes to mind. I have no idea how many athletes in the Tour de France are taking part in activities that jeopardise natural performance. It’s not something I had any interest in since my sport was a hobby that turned a little more serious.

It would be pleasant to think all sports are still amateur especially when so many children enjoy following them. Certain sports seem to demand extra qualities and the Tour de France is one of those sports. Miguel Indurain (SPA) won 5 consecutive tours from 1991-1995 and was the most memorable tour winner until Armstrong came along.

MIGUEL INDURAIN attack in the Pyrenees, accelerating at the foot of a 10 km climb

MIGUEL INDURAIN attack in the Pyrenees, accelerating at the foot of a 10 km climb

I wrote this before all the information was released about Lance Armstrong, and decided to leave what I’ve written since the information is accurate. I do not condone the use of drugs in sport. Everything he did was at great personal risk, he chose to do what he did. He would have been placing his body under great pressure.


While Armstrong was preparing for his first tour he trained on some fifty arduous climbs surrounding Nice which included solid inclines of ten miles (16km) or more. Knowing he had to ride hard and fast in order to win the Tour, he chose to train when no-one else would and climb more often than anyone else.

Few situations in cycling make racers anxious although steep, fast descents with tight technical turns and riding in a pack can help to get hearts pumping and hands sweating.

Some cyclists find themselves hitting the brakes or drifting to the back of the pack to manage the anxiety of that moment. Feeling nervous on fast descents or corners can be dealt with in training while improving skills.

Lacking in confidence isn’t always inside the head, confidence is improved dramatically by preparing sufficiently both mentally and physically, always focussing on what is within the athlete’s control.

Some feel their skills are just fine but don’t trust those around them. There is a big difference between being aware of those around you and being afraid of what might happen.

Miguel Indurain 1974

If awareness should move to fear, the stress response kicks in, based on something that is out of the athlete’s control. If this occurs: stop the thought, breathe and choose to focus on something else that is totally within your control.

Relax. Stress can create an excess of muscular tensions in your body which can impact on your coordination and balance. Imagine getting hit or riding over a pot-hole in this state, you would be less likely to absorb the bumps on the road and bumps from other riders. The best thing you can do for your confidence is to breathe and relax.

Alpe d’Huez is one of the great climbs of the Alps and was first climbed by the tour in 1952 when Fausto Coppi (ITA) won the stage.

Fausto Coppi & Trofeo Baracchi in 1953


The climb to the ski resort has twenty-one marked hairpins with the toughest part of the ascent over the first three kilometres and the first six hairpins.




Two mountain roads lead up to Alpe d’Huez; one starts at Bourg d’Oisans at 719m (2157 ft) and leads up to Col de Poutran and Lac Besson at 1996m (5988 ft).

A vertical climb of 1390m (4170 ft), a distance of 19km   (12 miles) at an 8.1% average to a 12% maximum gradient.



The other road, leads to Col de Sarenne at 1989m (5967 ft), starts at Barrage du Chambon at 1045m (3135 ft) which is at the foot of the climb to Deux Alpes and a vertical climb of 954m (2862 ft), a distance of 13km (8 miles).



The beauty of champions is that even in defeat they show glimpses of the mental strength that has made them winners.



Anything is possible. You can have a 90% chance or a 50% chance or a 1% chance but you have to believe and you have to fight.

If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages then maybe we can learn from them. When you think about it what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up or Fight Like Hell.

Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.

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