Tour de France: part sporting event, part travelogue

It's the most wonderful time of the year -- not Christmas but the start of the Tour de France, with Stage 1 coming tomorrow. Some of the enjoyment has been drained from the event in recent years by charges of illegal blood doping. The 2006 winner, American Floyd Landis, was stripped of his title for cheating, and accusations have dogged past champions Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong as well.

Still, what's better than a three-week event that is part sport and part French travelogue. It's like an extended run of Woody Allen's new movie, "Midnight in Paris," except that you also get to see mountains, vineyards and the occasional chateau. I even recall a wild boar in one helicopter shot.

Advertisement

The downside: It starts at an ungodly early hour. Still, you can watch a recap at night.

To get in the mood, I'd suggest reading Armstrong's "It's Not about the Bike," which recounts the seven-time champion's battle with cancer. Other options include: "Inside the Tour de France" by Eric Delanzy, "The Official Treasures: Le Tour de France" by Serge Laget and Luke Edwardes-Evans, and "The Story of the Tour De France" (two volumes) by Bill McGann.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement