The plan this morning was to hop over to Celebration Cinema North to see The Dark Knight in IMAX at noon. But as it turned out, I was still at home well after the decision point to get out of here to make the movie.
Because, you see, it's July and that means it's Le Tour de France on Versus (formerly Outdoor Life Network). While I still don't have the foggiest idea how velodrome cycling works (grin), I've been fascinated with bicycle road racing for a number of years. It was probably the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta where the coverage of both the road and mountain bike racing was good enough to figure out what was going on, and I admired the elegance and pulse of the peloton. Just as I began watching late night OLN/Versus' America's Cup yacht racing, so sometime during the Lance Armstrong era I began to appreciate the Tour de France.
It's taken some time, but I really appreciate the high/low mix of achievements which the Tour rewards. It's emphasis on both individual and team efforts. That you can win a sprint, a climb, a stage. The four colored jerseys: Yellow (overall time leader), White (young rider time leader), King of the Mountain (red-on-white polka dot for climbing points), Green (sprinting points).
Yes, the Tour has been harmed by the dopers, even this year, but they are trying very hard to clean up this sport. Because the guys on Versus are right -- this is a huge stadium they compete in and thousands upon thousands of people line the route, allowing an insane closeness to the action especially in the climbs on narrow mountain roads which is impossible in other sports. Without any clear runaway favorites and tough stages, the 2008 Tour de France is the best I've seen -- Versus' coverage is getting better every year.
This morning I was sucked in by the early coverage of Stage 17 -- "the Queen of stages" was listed as the most difficult with three punishing mountains to climb. There are half-a-dozen leaders who all have a significant chance of winning the whole thing. And the story was compelling. Team CSC holds both the Yellow and White jerseys in a pair of brothers from Luxembourg, Frank and Andy Schleck. And yet Team CSC really worked as a team to let Carlos Sastre of Spain hold a lone lead and win the stage and take over the Yellow jersey.
I figured I wanted to see how it came out now, rather than trying to find out later. Guess Batman will have to hold til Friday. Reality won over fantasy this noon. (triple-witching-hour-grin)