I’ve spent the past three weeks watching the Tour de France. I know nothing about cycling except that the sport has been riddled with doping scandals. This year was no different. During the final week of the tour police raided the hotel rooms and vehicles of one of the teams searching for drugs. They didn’t find any, but it cast a shadow over the race.
I first tuned in to watch the race because I wanted to see the background shots of the French countryside with its castles, chateaus, villages, churches and Roman ruins. The race began in Brittany, moved east, and then south to Nimes and Carcassonne. Nimes was built by the ancient Romans and their arena is still used today for concerts. Carcassonne also dates to the Roman era although the medieval walled city and fortress are why tourists visit today.
From there the race moved into the Pyrenees Mountains. These mountains are as magnificent as the Rocky Mountains. Not surprisingly, the winners of these group stages grew up in mountainous areas. One such winner was a young American, Sepp Kuss, from Durango, Colorado. Expect to hear much more of him, by the way.
Expect to hear much more about Tadej Pogacar, the young Slovenian who won the Tour de France with a whopping 5-minute lead over his nearest competitor. He also snagged three of the four color jerseys: yellow (Tour winner), polk-dot (King of the Mountain), and white (best young rider). He couldn’t have done any of it without the support of his team.
The Tour de France is simultaneously a group sport and a test of individual stamina. Riders participate as part of a team and support their lead cyclist. Pogacar’s teammates helped him stay at the front of the peloton in every stage of the race, away from the wrecks near the back of the pack. Pogacar’s stamina helped him win two of the four most difficult mountain climbs.
It was fascinating to watch the camaraderie of the riders. Riders in the back of the pack supported each other without regard to team affiliation, sharing food and water and encouraging each other to keep going. When a spectator caused a massive crash in Stage 3, the riders protested the poor security and narrow roads by staging a slow ride and an hour-long stoppage during the next stage.
The race ended in Paris on Sunday. It was a fascinating journey through the French countryside. But what kept me tuning in every day was watching the camaraderie of the riders. We all want to be respected by our peers for our diligence, honesty and hard work. The Tour de France epitomizes that.
About Norma Shirk
My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps small businesses create human resources policies and risk mitigation programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy. To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).
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