There is so much chat kicking around these days of what really is the toughest physical test on the planet. CrossFit claim they will crown the fittest man and woman on the planet at the CrossFit Games. There are protests from Ironman Triathletes who endure upwards of 8 hours suffering to complete their event and then we have the brutality of martial arts and the likes of UFC which boasts phenomenal athletes. Each of these sports have the right to claim they produce the fittest on earth but that’s not what what I am here to argue.
This post is about Le Tour De France which I personally believe is one of the most grueling and toughest physical endurance events on the planet. What makes it even more immense for me is that Le Tour was first raced all the way back in 1903. The history and complexity of the race is like no other and I have never seen it summed up so well in one article as the article I was reading this last week “Tour De France Brief A-Z”
My love for this great race started at a young age and I can remember vividly sitting down with my father (a veteran of Lands End to John O’Groats, North of the North Island in New Zealand to the South of the South Island amongst a number of lengthy cycle expeditions) every night for 3 weeks each summer watching Channel 4’s 30 minute daily highlights of this huge bike race. I was fascinated from the outset. I hardly understood how the human body worked but the pain, suffering and elation in the riders faces throughout the three weeks told me this was special.
I have also long been a fan of seven time tour champion Lance Armstrong (currently at the center of renewed doping allegations) having been lucky enough to watch every single one of his victories, read all of his gripping books and from its release to this day worn the band that symbolizes his Livestrong cancer foundation. This race is truly something very special.
Today will see the start of the 2012 Tour de France and for me its a particularly exciting one with a lot of the media backing Englishman Bradley Wiggins to stand victorious on the Champs Elysee 3 weeks from now and the ever exciting Mark “Cav” Cavendish guaranteed to deliver a few stage victories with his epic sprinting ability. (Both athletes coincidentally race on the same team)
To me this race is like no other sport event on earth and I will be following it very closely over the coming weeks. Its a race that proves sport is about more than physical capacity, Le Tour tests its athletes in every single department and puts their mental capacity to the ultimate test!