Spoke Talk: 10 reasons to watch the Tour de France

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Paul Matheny

Action

— Just like NASCAR, TV coverage of the Tour de France places you in the heart of the action. You can see how hard the riders are working, the risks they take and some spectacular crashes as they ride for 21 days covering more than 2,000 miles.

Personality

The cycling world is full of characters, including U.S. ex-pro racer Bob Roll, who brings his own brand of humor to the scene as well as insightful analysis during the broadcasts. Check out some of his commercials at www.roadid.com/bobke.

Innovation

You can learn a lot about current trends, cycling gear and technology by watching, listening to the commentary and seeing the commercials. From bikes and trainers to GPS trackers and performance monitors, a lot of good information is presented.

Learn strategies and tactics

Even if you do not ride competitively, the tactics and strategies of attacking, counter-attacking and deciding when to chase are interesting. Watching teams try to get organized to lead their sprinters to the finish is fascinating. The team dynamics — protecting the team leader and fetching food and water for the team — are interesting subtleties.

Learn riding techniques

Most of us never have raced and never will, but we all can benefit from watching these pros when it comes to climbing, descending, drafting and riding in the wind. Locally, we have lots of applications for all of these skills, and they all make riding easier.

Compare terrain to our local rides

How tough is your favorite local ride? The elevation profiles for each stage allow you to compare the Tour stages to various rides through our Colorado terrain.

It’s the real deal

TV commentators Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen are icons in TV cycling coverage. As past Tour riders, their experience is vast, and they truly bring the most-watched sporting event in the world to life.

Learn about U.S. Pro Challenge teams

Sixteen of the teams and many of the riders in the Tour will be here Aug. 21 and 22, when Stage 3 finishes and Stage 4 starts in Steamboat.

Be inspired

Local cyclist and Routt County Riders board member Robin Craigen recently traveled to France for a cycling vacation to ride some of the legendary mountain stages in the Alps. The Tour television coverage showcases the spectacular scenery of the Pyrenees, the Alps and the French countryside and creates tremendous economic impact.

Become a fanatic

Devil costumes, bikinis, Speedo swimsuits and Viking headwear are just a few of the creative and entertaining getups the fans wear as they line the route and sometimes run alongside the riders, especially near the tops of the big climbs. This could be you in August.

Paul Matheny serves on the board of Routt County Riders. He can be reached at jpmatheny@gmail.com.

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