Life in Yellow

October 25 th 2018 - 13:04

1919. Hit by years of conflict, destruction and deprivation, France would bounce back. There are dreams of revival. The enemies of yesterday sign the Versailles treaty, called upon to define peaceful relations between the nations of Europe and of the World. Just a few kilometres away, in Paris, a peloton of 67 riders mostly made up of former soldiers prepare, at the heart of the night, to start the Tour de France that lay dormant during the Great War. Henri Desgrange, boss of the race and patriot counts on the vitality of riders that he gathered together to bring some enthusiasm in the work of reconstruction. We tend to like the fact that in those grey moments the inspiration that pushed him to reward the overall leader with a Yellow Jersey had also the value of an invitation: thanks to its flamboyance, the jersey of light had the vocation of guiding, like a lighthouse, those who want to find a path in their journey to success. We also like to see in a rider named Eugène Christophe, first wearer of the jersey on the morning of the stage from Grenoble to Geneva, a man carrying the values it wishes to express. A champion of self-sacrifice at the service of an exploit.

A century later, the Yellow Jersey had several meetings: 266 riders wore it including legendary champions, surprise guests, sometimes even some disappointing leaders who didn’t always believe they had to respect it. Indeed, more than any other trophy, the Yellow Jersey lives and is exposed to torments. On its journey, it met its most regular companion in 1969, some fifty years ago: Eddy Merckx. “I found I was very good looking with the Yellow Jersey”, tenderly remembers the greatest cyclist ever. For this anniversary like no other, it was natural and even obvious to honour both of them. By starting its adventure in Brussels, Eddy’s home, the 2019 edition of the Tour seems placed under the sign of excellence. It is at that level, we hope, that the debates will be played between the contenders to this precious Yellow Jersey. An altimeter will be put to contribution as soon as the Vosges mountains and in the Massif Central… it’ll falter from the Pyrenees to the Alps with three finishes above 2000 metres: at the Tourmalet, in Tignes and finally in Val Thorens on the eve of the arrival in Paris. A first on a same edition of the Tour! A festival of peaks where we will dream and live in yellow.

CHRISTIAN PRUDHOMME
Director of the Tour de France

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