Le Tour fits neatly into my self-appointed schedule. La canicule, the heatwave, has been dominant for several weeks now, keeping the temperatures up in the high 30s, or close to 100 in old money. Which sounds idyllic, but can be too much of a good thing. Domestic chores must be completed early in the morning before it becomes too hot to attempt them or even contemplate doing so. And my determination to write the final 100,000 words of this damn thriller can wane as quickly as the temperature rises.
But I am persevering. Two of the three planned murders have been committed. The protagonist has assembled his team of co-conspirators. And the location of the action has been successfully moved across the Atlantic. It’s going well.
I try to work at it from first thing until TV coverage of Le Tour begins, when I stop pondering the fate of ‘60s radicals and instead marvel at the power of Froome and Quintana, Contador and – our new hero – Geraint Evans.
Are they doping? I think not and I hope not. In my capacity as a member of IBWAA, I have refused to vote into the Hall of Fame the likes of Bonds and Clements, Sosa and McGuire. I am totally opposed to PEDs in sport. But I am also conscious that, because most of us have no access to hard evidence either way, our reaction tends to be based on whether or not we like the individual concerned.
I like Big Papi. I don’t like A-Rod. I like Froome (although not as much as I like Bradley Wiggins) but I didn’t like Armstrong.
I am aware of the parallels between Team Sky and US Postal. I find the ranks of Team Sky, riding en masse in their black uniforms, unfortunately reminiscent of a Panzer brigade powering through Belgium. I am also, of course, instinctively antagonistic to anything funded by Murdoch.
But I do believe that extraordinary burst of power on the first day in the Pyrenees was the result of innate talent and very hard work. It was unexpected. It was exhilarating. It was sporting in every sense.
Vive le tour!
Today from the everysmith vaults: There is something of a Nashville fest going on at the moment, inspired perhaps by the anniversary of Blonde on Blonde. I have been listening to The Dead in Nashville in ‘78, now the latest official release, although I listened to the excellent Charlie Miller AUD recording. But right now, I have playing Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats. The Dylan and Cash tracks are less interesting(because more familiar) than the work of Nashville cats themselves. I commend it to you.