Hard to believe in Tour magic when we've been burned so many times
Published 29/07/2015 | 02:30
I can't remember a Tour de France we've talked about as much. But most of it was about power data and media coverage. On Saturday, for the Tour's penultimate stage, up the Alpe d'Huez, I finally got a chance to sit down and watch the racing.
Over the next three hours, I realised why we all care so much about the scandals that engulf cycling. I had forgotten just what a remarkable sport it truly is.
Chris Froome was two and a half minutes ahead in the general classification and it seemed unlikely he'd lose the lead, but as they went up the mountain, we were never totally sure.
Nairo Quintana needed to attack, and that he did. After several goes that were pulled back, he finally got away and got close to 90 seconds ahead of the Yellow Jersey at one stage.
Froome, behind him, was struggling. Only a brilliant Team Sky performance helped get him to the finish line. Richard Porte, in particular, rode a fantastic race for Froome.
Porte had had a disastrous Tour, battling sickness, and had an even worse Giro earlier in the summer. He's leaving Sky at the end of the season but his last major contribution was to get his leader to the finish for the team's third Tour win in four years.
At the end of the stage, when it was clear Quintana wasn't going to have enough to close the gap to Froome, the TV commentator was audibly emotional as the brilliant Colombian crossed the line. This was what this race and this climb meant, and we'd seen something amazing.
But as Froome cycled the remaining 80 seconds of his stage, we heard the same commentator criticise what the Sky rider has had to put up with from fans and media throughout the race, and we were told he had proved everyone wrong today.
I was suddenly brought back to life. I had been gripped for hours by the drama of this great race. But here we were again, listening to the TV tell us that everything was okay.
Maybe it is. But we don't know. And the absolute brilliance of the Tour de France can never been appreciated when we've all been burned so many times.
As much as I enjoyed Saturday, looking back, I can't say Chris Froome and his win means anything to me.