The tour de France is the biggest, most prestigious and famous cycling tour. It is the one that so many cyclists aspire to win. For many sports enthusiasts it is an inspiring and strategic race to watch on tv. For Francophiles it is a chance to learn about French villages, castles, rivers and cooking (thanks to the cooking segment before the race starts!). For travellers it is an opportunity for a few weeks of the best arm chair travelling through France.
In 2011 Australian Cadel Evans inspired myself and many other Australians when he was the first, and at the time of writing this post, the only Australian to win the Tour de France. I will never forget how exciting it was to sit up late in front of the tv watching Cadel grab a glass of champagne and ride down the Champs-Elysees to the podium. I can still feel the hairs rising on the back of my neck as I listened to Tina Arena sing the Australian National Anthem as Cadel stood there next to her in his yellow winner’s jersey, with the huge soft toy, smiling proudly. Years of hard work had finally paid off.
Cadel inspired so many of us not only because he won this famous race but he did it humbly and drug free. For years the sport has been tarnished with drug taking cheats taking short cuts to the winner’s podium. Cadel got to the podium through sheer hard work, determination and a supportive team.
Last week Cadel announced his retirement from cycling. Whilst we are always sad to hear of a sporting hero’s departure from their sport, it is also a chance to reflect on what they have achieved in their career and how they have inspired us. Cadel inspired a nation in July 2011 and I have a feeling will continue to inspire for years to come. He may be retiring but he will not be forgetten. He is in the Australian and cycling history books and many will be talking about him for a lifetime.