Remember last year when a dog ran out on the road in front of riders during stage 18 of the Tour De France? It caused an ugly accident, Philippe Gilbert from BMC readily admitted that he wanted to hit the family that owned the dog and sporting fans around the world condemned them for their stupidity in not putting their dog on a lead.
Well imagine if a person, an uncoordinated person clutching a camera hoping to get a shot of 2010 Tour De France winner Andy Schleck, lost her footing and slipped down a hill into the path of cyclists tackling the dreaded Old Willunga Hill during stage 5 of the Santos Tour Down Under. Then imagine that it wasn’t even Schleck but one of the darlings of Aussie cycling (despite the fact that he is actually German) Jens Voigt.
That would be bad. Wouldn’t it?
Stage 5 of the Tour Down Under is becoming a quite the tradition for Ben and I. Held for the past 2 years on Australia Day and consisting of a loop through the McLaren Vale wine region in South Australia, the stage is a great option if you want to see the riders speed past a number of times.
For the past 2 years we have set up in the town of Willunga and watched the riders travel up the main street 3 times before they tackle Old Willunga Hill, not once but twice.
A real festival atmosphere takes over the town of Willunga. There are big screens set up where cycling fans can keep abreast of the action, a fete takes over a local park and shops are decorated with biking motifs.
When the riders start to make their way up the dreaded Old Willunga Hill spectators crowd onto the road, just like what I’ve seen staying up late to watch the Tour De France onTV. And considering that the Santos Tour Down Under is the world’s second biggest spectator road race this is as close as you can get to a real Le Tour experience without traveling to France.
So if someone was to lose their footing the helicopters hovering above would capture the moment and beam it straight to live television. Spectators armed with smart phones would have the spectacle uploaded to You Tube within minutes. There is no doubt that the footage would be used to wrap up sports reports on stations across the globe.
Thankfully Ben expects my many ungraceful and inelegant moments. He swiftly grabbed me by the wrist as my footing slipped out from under me thus saving me from injury and possibly the 2013 cycling season for the Jens (as well as my probable lynching by Aussie cycling fans).
And he’ll be right next to me on the Alpe d’Heuz in July this year when we travel to France to watch Le Tour. He’ll have a blow up kangaroo in one hand and my wrist held tightly in the other, making sure that my clumsiness doesn’t cause an international incident.