The Giro d’Italia will start 13 days after the end of the Tour de France and the Vuelta Cyclist a España will start five days before the end of the Giro in Milan. Cross-country and downhill mountain biking races will also face a reduced schedule with events organized over a two-month period and three of the venues hosting double rounds of racing.
If all goes well, it will create some exciting and intense months for fans to watch on TV.
But for now, there is no live race to whet the appetite of cycling fans. It will not be quite the same on Bastille Day, without courageous French runners trying to make a breakaway to celebrate their national holiday.
I rarely see the race for years. Strangely enough, I went through a period in the early 1990s when I recorded many Eurosport races.
Back then, I was obsessed with watching every minute of every race I could and I guess I set up the VCR to review the races during periods when there was no bike .
I never did, but I still have more than 40 of these VHS tapes and I can’t bear to throw them away, so they collect dust in a box in my wardrobe. The modern equivalent of these VHS tapes is You Tube, a veritable assortment of cycling videos that allow you to revisit most of the races that have already turned to the film.
So I decided to recreate my three weeks of racing in the weeks when the Tour would have originally taken place.
I will not limit myself to a year of Tour. Instead, I will randomly choose the relevant stage, but for any year in the history of the Tour de France.
By my side, I will be armed with my collection of the Tour de France, in order to be able to read and place each stage that I am looking at in a broader context. I’ve already picked a few to watch and by June 28 I plan to have a full program of the race through the Prologue years at the 21st stage in Paris.
Of course, my choice for this final stage could only be from 1989 when Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon by only eight seconds.
The rest of the shortlisted stages include stage 13 of the 1991 Tour which marked Miguel Indurain’s race. On that day, Indurain attacked in the descent of the Tourmalet, caught the Italian Cladio Chiapucci and they both moved away from Lemond putting an end to his chance of winning a fourth title.
There is the victory of Chris Boardman at the Prologue in 1994 and that of Carlos Sastre at the Alpe d’Huez in 2008. Some of my choices will be more on the landscape and the roads than on the race. One of my favorite climbs in France is the short but spectacular Lacets du Mont Vernier on which they raced in 2015.
I have ridden it many times and each time I visit Saint Jean de Maurianne a climb on the Laces and the following, the Col de Chaussy is always the first on my list of things to do.
It may not be as good as watching the race live, especially when I know what’s going to happen on most stages, but armed with a bottle of French red, cheese and chopsticks, i look forward to my three week virtual tour of France.