It’s going to take a while to recover from 26 days in Poland and Ukraine covering Euro 2012 so it’s well-earned time off for me.
Since returning though, it has surprised me how many people of Polish descent in London followed the tournament with tremendous interest, even if soccer was not high up on their priority scale.
What was important to them was how people viewed their country in terms of friendliness, preparedness and in general the overall view of visitors who travelled to Poland.
Was it enjoyable?
Poland was not completely prepared for the tournament but there was an awful lot to do. When their road system and train system is finished, it will be an easy country to travel. To all the Poles in this area, rest easy. Being situated in Poland for the tournament was a stroke of luck for those who drew that straw, the people, the food, the atmosphere, the facilities where all first class.
One of the best things about having time off in July is being able to watch the Tour de France bike race. Aside from interviewing Mohammed Ali, covering the juiced up race and racers is at the top of the bucket list.
Since it likely won’t ever happen, I have to be satisfied with being a voyeur and watching on television.
But that doesn’t prevent me from venting frustration at one of the most difficult sporting events in the world.
There is still two weeks to go until the Tour reaches Paris for the final stage. No one knows whether Bradley Wiggins will retain his lead or Cadel Evans or someone else will take over before Paris. As those who follow bike racing know, the final stage is usually a ceremonial stage. The only thing to be decided is who will win the stage race. Whoever leads the Tour de France the day before Paris, is the winner even if they lead by 10 seconds, one second or 10 minutes.
During that final stage, the leader’s team is pictured sipping champagne while the race meanders to Paris. The expectation is that no one, especially the second place challenged will disrupt the Sunday ride.
Is there anything more ridiculous?
You train for a year to compete, and compete is the optimum word here, in a 2,000-kilometre bike race With one stage left you are 10 seconds behind and the expectation is that you meekly ride out the day in the final stage and allow the leader to win.
Yes, I realize that on a flat stage like the last in the Tour, it is difficult to make up time. I also realize that it has become tradition to not challenge on the last stage. It’s also tradition that bike racers dope but that doesn’t make it right.
It would be marvelous if when it came down to Paris there were only a few seconds separating the top riders. Maybe someone would be willing to buck tradition instead of continuing to do something that is so dumbass.
After all, it is a 20-stage race, not 19. That’s like a hockey team trailing by a goal playing only 59 of a game’s 60 minutes.