One of the attractions of Le Tour is it is also a grand tour of France itself.
Alternating between a clockwise and counter-clockwise direction around the country, this year the procession going in the former, showing off the various and varied regions of the country.
The publicity caravan is as much a part of the race as the riders, and the tv/radio coverage makes it a truly world race. Spectators line the routes for each stage number in hundreds of thousands around the entire course, with estimates of between 1-2 million throughout the full tour. Many camp out on iconic climbs like L’alpe d’Huez for up to a week to secure their spots.
Some historians even claim that most French people had little idea about the shape of their own country in the early years of their race until L’Auto began publishing maps of the route.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the Tour is so special. It is more than just a race. It is a cultural extravaganza with sport thrown in. It is like having a World Cup every year, but where you get to travel the entire host country into the bargain. Plus you come back the following year because there are places you haven’t seen yet, alongside some of your favourites.
W.G. Seebald’s book The Rings of Saturn had this feel of a story within a story when I first read it. Seebald weaves characters and incidents from history into the landscape of this summer illness and subsequent journey around Norfolk.
The Tour is very much in this framework. There is the current story being played out against the backdrop and history of the places in which the story is taking place.
David Hockney, in recent years, goes back to a specific piece of wooded road near where he lives and paints/iPad paints it continually. Each image documents the natural changes of the spot and perspective of the artist.
Ludvico Einaudi is currently releasing albums with compositions inspired by a seven day walking trip.
What could you do with your creative art?
With one of the toughest Tour stages, with seven climbs, tomorrow then this day will potentially be quite quiet with many of the GC riders keeping out of trouble and using as little energy as possible. So expect a bunch sprint but not too much effecting the overall standings.
175.5km – Saint Die des Vosges to Colmar.
A rolling course with two Cat 3 and two Cat 4 climbs, the last giving the peloton about 30km run in to the finish. Breakaways but all swept up for a bunch sprint at the end with Peter Sagan taking the honours today. No overall change in the General Classification.