The Swiss Trip
July 09, 2022: Lausanne. After 186km in the mountains, Tour de France Stage 8 climaxed at Lausanne with a dramatic sprint to the finish. Wout van Aert surges for the win!
“Cycling isn’t a game, it’s a sport. Tough, hard and unpitying, and it requires great sacrifices. One plays football, or tennis, or hockey. One doesn’t play at cycling.”
― Jean de Gribaldy
The Tour de France is one of the great spectacles, unique in sports. An estimated 12 million spectators line the route, with many millions more on video. Riders endure 21 utterly grueling stages over 23 days. Each Stage ranges from 125-220km (78-140 miles), up and through multiple mountain passes. This year, the race started in Denmark and stretched through Belgium, Switzerland, and of course, France!
Each team fields a phalanx of seven riders to protect their captain – the rider with the best shot at winning. The team tries to (legally) block other riders, break the wind, or deliver food and drink to the lead to keep their captain at the head of the pack. When a team loses a racer due to sickness or injury, it materially affects the captain’s ability to prevail.
Stage 8 Finish
We were treated to a dramatic finish to Stage 8 in Lausanne, with overall points leader (green jersey) Wout van Aert surging uphill in the last 300m from 5th in the pack to win. He glided by us a few meters past the finish line, exhausted but grinning.
The next morning, Stage 9 raced through Montreaux, directly in front of our apartment. About an hour before the riders, the vanguard of floats paraded through town, blaring music and throwing candy to the kids. We took our cue to meander down to join the crowd.
Suddenly, behind a lead police motorcycle, the entire peloton of riders shooshed through town like the wind before a rainstorm. Within a minute, they were gone, and trailing support vehicles started picking up the traffic cones. The crowd dispersed back to their Sunday coffee and newspaper.