So it’s “le tour” time. That time of year when my sleep patterns are destroyed by SBS coverage of .
It’s truly one of the world’s great sporting epics, and I’m years into my annual addiction to it. If you missed last year’s reflections, here’s some stories you might find interesting:
- le tour: tactics of time
- le tour: the herd
- le tour: the servant
- le tour: the flatlands
- le tour: the specialists
- le tour: the home stretch
This year’s tour has been unbelievable – and we’re not yet half-way into the race. Massive accidents, favourites falling by the wayside, the inclusion of seriously tough cobblestone stretches and plenty more.
But last night’s stage took the cake. After already covering 145 km and topping three big mountains, the pack hit the foot hills of a monster 27.5 km climb (gaining over 1600 vertical metres) up the famed Col de la Madeleine. With the front running teams pouring on the power up front, the peleton split apart, with race leader and Australian Cadel Evans one of the biggest casualties – dropping out of the battling pack and destined to lose so much time that any hope of winning this year’s Tour was gone.
Later it emerged that Evans was carrying an injury – a fractured bone in his elbow suffered in a crash two days earlier (the day he took the race lead). While seemingly a relatively minor injury, the cracked bone hit Evans where it hurt the most – stopping him from being able to stand up out of the saddle and power up the mighty Madeleine.
Sometimes, that’s the way it goes isn’t it? Everything seems like it’s all going smoothly, and one tiny thing goes wrong.
For Evans, a random accident, a small break in a seemingly non-significant bone (after all, it’s a leg sport….right?) had massive consequences.
For those who will win the Tour, everything has to be just right. Every day needs careful attention. Food intake on every stage must be carefully managed. Bikes prepared to millimetre perfection. Tactics planned and executed in the finest detail. Nothing can be left to chance.
Planning for an assault on the Tour de France is a monster task, no doubt. And one that’s beyond many of us. But what Evans experience shows us is that with all the will in the world, with years of preparation, even the best laid plans can fall apart over a small, insignificant incident (what is it….the best laid plans of mice and men?).
The true test for us is how we respond, how we react, how we find ways to persevere in the face of plans coming apart at the seams.
For Evans it was about gritting his teeth through the pain, honouring the Tour leader’s yellow jersey and finding a way over the top of the mountain. All hopes of winning dashed, last night became about courage, and honour. And the reactions of his competitors and fans tell the story of a man who made the best of a difficult situation.
So to you and me. Next time plans come apart at the seams because of unforeseen (or unforeseeable) issues arising, how will we react? How will we respond? How will we re-shape our goals to find new ways to continue?
I’ll continue to watch and cheer for Cadel as he grinds his way toward Paris – clenching his teeth every time he has to pull on the handlebars. I’d rather he be fighting to win of course, but the fact that he’s fighting impresses me.