So ends the Tour de France 2020. In a year of uncertainty and sorrow, the race proved a welcome distraction and a welcome change, in that it was as tense and glorious as ever. Some late drama in the stage 20 time trial as, having lead the Grand Classification for over half of race, Primoz Roglic, whom many thought would be the man to win the whole thing, was pipped to the post by fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogacar. What a win that is for the young man, only 22 years of age. He took victory in the Grand Classification, the Mountain Classification and the best Young Rider award. I would say he’s one to watch for the future, but it seems he’s one to watch right now!
As fascinating and beautiful as the race has been this year, and is every year, what is particularly interesting to me, on this occasion, is how intelligently and vigilantly the organising team went about making this edition happen. First postponing it and then, when it was allowed to go ahead, making sure that all preparations were in place for things to go ahead smoothly and safely. Some team members and official body members did catch the virus, but it is a testament to the efficiency of their testing and vigilance that not a single rider on the entire tour tested positive.
It is also a testament to the spirit of the cycling community that people were so keen for the race to proceed. The Tour de France encapsulates the very best of what cycling has to offer – extreme endurance, beautiful scenery and a dogged determination to conquer and win. This determination was on full display in the lead-up to said race, as well as in the race itself. Every barrier was met and overcome with vigour.
The aftermath displayed a different side of the community, also, as winner Tadej Pogacar told of how “every single one of [the other riders] congratulated me today. I am really thankful. This sport is amazing.” Despite often-times overwhelming commitment to competition at the very highest of levels, the aftermath is always one of jollity, congratulations and good sportsmanship. There will be sadness and soreness, of course, in the losing camps, especially (I assume) for Primoz Roglic who, for so long, held his lead and looked to be the man to take the overall win, before being beaten at the final hurdle by a younger and less experienced competitor, from his own team and his own nation, no less. Still, friendship and the bond of the team won out.
As the excitement of the race cools off and all that tension, built up over so many months of waiting, is released, the reality of life starts to set back in again. For third-placed Australian Richie Porte, the race ended, not at the finish line in Paris, but back home with his wife, as they welcome into the world a new-born daughter. I say “new-born.” She was actually born two weeks ago, and that arrival home would be the first time that Richie would meet her. What an encouragement that must have been for the man as he raced along! “To be on the podium and 12 hours later back on nappy duty – it was straight back to reality, to be honest.” Yes, the race is over, but the world keeps turning and life goes on, bringing all the challenges that come with it, especially this year. Also, the Giro d’Italia starts in a week, wahey!