Article written by Salama Marine, a blogger from Pleaz.fr, and a guest of the live Orange blog on the Tour de France
Hugely popular on television and also on the side of the roads, I’ve been able to see for myself how much enthusiasm people have for this competition. After covering two stages of the Tour, I can tell you that I’ve seen the full force of the spectators’ passion for following the riders’ exploits. One thing for sure is that this much-loved sport is definitely in touch with the public! But the big question is why ?
1- This year is the 99th edition of the Tour de France, and 100 years of July being synonymous with cycling. An effective formula, and one that works, the Tour de France is a tradition that has become part of France’s heritage.
2- The French have plenty of support! Since last year, with Thomas Voeckler’s rise to fame, French riders have been making their mark on the Tour de France and have given hope of a possible French victory; and judging by the countless number of Rolland signs seen along the Tour’s route, the public has found a new favorite.
3- A sport that’s close to the public! With no tickets and no seat reservations, it means that millions of spectators are able to sit on the side of the road to support the riders: it’s the only sport where there are no barriers between the athlete and his supporters, and the only sporting event that travels to meet its fans, rather than the other way round !
4- The mountains. Firstly, you cannot help but have admiration for the riders when you see for yourself what they have to climb on each stage, and secondly, in the same way that football fans become the “12th man” for their team, the spectators on the Tour de France give the riders encouragement and propel them towards the summit.
5- The Tour de France really is a tour of the whole of France. Over the course of 100 years, no region has been forgotten, and every French village has seen or will see the Tour pass by on at least one occasion. It is sometimes overlooked that the Tour’s route really does offer a snapshot of the whole of France.
6- The publicity caravan. Without the caravan, the Tour would not be what it is today. The fans are just as enthusiastic for the caravan as they are for the riders, and its arrival is always highly anticipated, with it now being an integral part of the race!
7- Team spirit in an individual sport. A yellow jersey cannot be won without the support of an entire team, as confirmed to us by Eric Caritoux. This collective aspect also explains the success of the Tour de France, as the team leader relies enormously on the involvement and assistance of his entire team to guide him to Paris.
8- Almost 21 million French people cycle, whether for sport or as a hobby. Even before the Tour de France, it’s impossible to deny the French’s passion for this sport.
9- Global popularity. It’s a huge operation each year to broadcast the stages to over 190 countries! After the Olympic Games and the soccer World Cup, the Tour de France is the most popular sporting competition in the world!
10- The Tour de France is like a television series made up of 21 episodes, and this year is its 99th season. We often have to hold our breath in the last few days, where everything could hang on a poor performance in the final time trial.
Now, why don’t you share with us your passion for the Tour de France…