The Tour de France has officially started and though the first mountain stages are almost a week away, there has been more drama than I can remember in past years. You would think the that riders would take it easy and relax with the Alps and Pyrenees looming in weeks two and three, respectively, but that seems to never be the case when it come to the Tour
But, this year the hecticity that is the first few stages was magnified by a combination of factors that can only be found in that greatest of all bike races. First off, the race started in bike-crazy Holland where just about everyone rides a bike and I mean everybody. That fact translates to hoards of people lining the roadside to catch a glimpse of the race. The Tour only comes to Holland every once and a while and the Dutch know an opportunity when they see it.
Unfortunately, the Dutch also brought their dogs and some didn't have leashes. Add in the fact that it is very windy on the west coast of Holland and the levee-enabled country has a whole network of bridges some of which are pretty narrow and the potential for crashes goes up exponentially.
If that wasn't enough reason for a few off-the-bike excursions take 200 of the world's best cyclists (which means they have engines like a Ferrari) and try to put a bit of a rev limiter on all that horsepower and, well, you get the picture.It's kind of like trying to tell Michael Schumacher, when he is behind the wheel of a sports car, to obey the speed limit.
The good news is that if the riders survive the cobbles on stage 3, the race should settle down a bit and find its rythmn. Of course, returning to France from the sojourn in Holland and Belgium does mean a few more roundabouts (for some reason the French hate stop lights). Hopefully, the peloton will find its collective center and things will settle down a bit.