Christmas Eve and all through Rotterdam, most creature are stirring, riders, sporting directors, mechanics, soigneurs, journalists and fans. And old Chris Prudhomme, with his staff in the thousands, is just settling in for three weeks of chaos. The cobbles are dusty, and the Alps, they are high, the Pyrenees waiting to make riders cry. And all over the planet, folks like you and me, are drooling in wonder at the spectacle to be.
Yeah. Sorry about that. How else to quantify the anticipation and expectation we feel on this last day before the Grand Depart? This race we’ve talked about nearly every day since the last version ended is finally upon us again.
The story lines are legion already. Lance v. Alberto, whether you believe there’s even a contest there, no one will stop talking about it, especially on American television. The Schlecks and Saxo Bank seem to be breaking up, but in the meantime, they may have the strongest team with which to attack the general classification. Mark Cavendish v Thor Hushovd is on again, but we have to wonder if Tyler Farrar will crash their little party. And what of the Italians? BMC and Cadel Evans? Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky?
Do I dare even mention the white elephant in the room, Floyd Landis?
We have argued here, in the past, that the Tour de France is the biggest bike race in the world, arguably the biggest sporting event, because it tells the best stories. No other event cultivates and propagates its history so effectively, and so no other race captures our attention so completely.
Just in enumerating the stories already simmering in advance of the Prologue, we can see some of what the 2010 Tour de France will be. But, with history as our guide, we also know that it will be all of that and more.
This week’s Group Ride is about stories. What do you think the most compelling plot line of the 2010 Grand Boucle will be? Is it something already on our minds, or is it a thing that will come to light as the race goes on? Will it be the end of a veteran, or the emergence of a new star? Will it be the racing, or the personal squabbles that invariably go along with it.
Think of this as our prologue. Three weeks to go.
Image: John Pierce, Photosport International