“In the early days of bicycle racing there was a time when plucky riders took on long hard races alone with no team cars and soigneurs to look after them. They were hardy and desperate men who ate what they could find, slept when they could and rode all day. They weren’t professional athletes or men of means, they were “mavericks, vagabonds and adventurers” who picked up a bicycle and went to seek their fortune.
The founders of the Tour de France wanted to create a race of thousands of miles of cycling, whatever the weather and road conditions where “even the best will take a beating” Often they would race long into the night to distances of over 400 km each day in stages that would take more than 18 hours. Henri Desgrange, the father of the tour once noted that “the ideal Tour would be a Tour in which only one rider survives the ordeal.”
Somewhere along the way from a variety of influences, the grand tours changed to become what they are today; a race of the elite, held apart from the common cyclist by budgets, sanctions and industry. Don’t get us wrong, the Grand Tours as they are now are great and exciting things. We however also like the old way where a rider can simply pick up a bike, shake hands on the start line and race thousands of miles for the pure satisfaction of sport and no other motive but for the learnings of one’s self.
At the sharp end it will be a beautifully hard bicycle race, simple in design but complex in execution. Factors of self sufficiency. logistics, navigation and judgement will burden the racers’ minds as well their physiques. The strongest will excel and redefine what we imagine is possible, yet even experienced wheelmen may only be so bold as to target a satisfactory completion.
It will be no coincidence that the most prepared will be the most successful. We said that Transcontinental Number 3 will raise the stakes and it did. Now Number 4 is an entirely new animal four new controls, a new finish, shorter overall but much more climbing and who knows what will happen.”
One stage – The clock never stops. Racers chose where, when and if at all to rest.
No Support – Racers can only use what they take with them, or what they can find en-route at commercially available services.
No Route – Only mandatory controls ensure that racers visit some of the most famous pieces of road in Europe and connect with the suffering of their forebears. The rest is up to them.
Live Tracking – Unlike the races of the 1900s, which featured much skull-duggery and deviousness which eventually saw the stages made shorter and more controlled and bike racing become more professional, through the miracle of modern satellite technology and the interweb we can check up on our riders progress wherever they may be. So too can you wherever you may be.
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