“Long live the Tour de France!”
“Tour de France forever”
“All with the Tour”
These are the words that first popped up in my mind when I started to write about the 94th Tour de France.
This bicycle race for which nobody showed the slightest interest when it started on July 1, 1903 in front of the Réveil-matin motel in Montgeron, in the suburbs of Paris, has now become a global event, a monument of French and even international sports.
Patrice Clerc, myself and all those at Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.) who work all-year-long to make this competition a three-week-long celebration in July claim that the Tour de France is a monument.
These were the words we could read on the banners alongside the roads of the Tour during the 20 stages of the 3,500 km-long race.
But let us not close our eyes on other writings, because some other banners and signs also read as follows:
“Healthy riders for a noble sport”
These messages came from the crowd who follows the Tour and who, after years of hesitation –it must be said–, has taken down its “Berlin wall” and expressed its being fed-up with riders cheating in the peloton. The crowd even shouted down the leader of the race who it believed wrongly took the Yellow Jersey and tarnished its reputation. Indeed these reactions made us feel better because as organisers of the race, we felt strong support in our merciless fight against doping.
We must fight doping and we must defend the Tour that we love.
And we will win this fight with all the stakeholders, organisers, international instances, public authorities and spectators. Together we shall prevail!
The 2007 Tour de France put an end to some long-lasting bad habits.
I am already looking forward to the 2008 Tour de France!