HNC Home Page
News Business Arts & Life Sports Opinion Calendar Archive About Us
YOU'RE FIVE HOURS FROM PARADISE: Click the Arts & Life index for a link to a photo story on how to plan your Yellowstone getaway. / Photo by Shauna Leavitt
Today's word on

Friday, September 9, 2005

Scene: Calvin and Hobbes are reading the newspaper.

Calvin: "I like following the news! News organizations know I won't sit still for any serious discussion of complex and boring issues. They give me what I want: Antics. Emotional confrontation. Sound bites. Scandal. Sob stories and popularity polls all packaged as a soap opera and horse race! It's very entertaining."

Hobbes: "Then commentators wonder why the public is cynical about politics."

Calvin: "You can tell this is an in-depth story because it's got an article next to a chart."

--Calvin & Hobbes by cartoonist Bill Watterson, 2005


'Le tour' means the world to small towns with exotic French names

By Jerome le Carrou

July 28, 2005 | Even if you are not really familiar with France, you may have heard of the Alps, or the last stage on the famous avenue "les Champs Elysees" in Paris.

But who has heard of Chalans, Noirmoutiers, Tours, Blois, Chambord, Issoire, Agde, Albi, or Miramas?

These names that sound so exotic and hard to pronounce are stages belonging to "le Tour de France 2005." These cities are not as famous as the biggest ones but they stand for the diversity of "le Tour."

A year before the departure of the 2005 version of the world's most famous cycling race, some hearts were beating hard, some people were holding their breath when the director of le Tour de France, Jean-Marie Leblanc announced the stages for the next Tour.

"We got it, we got it," would say a mayor to his citizens, a father to his sons, a fan to another one, making the pride and the reputation of the city.

A strange frame slowly appeared on the map of France under tons of applauses. The race and all its stages were known. All the mayors from the selected cities know what it means;they have a year to get ready, their cities are going to be under the spots and overcrowded during a stage.

"Le Tour" is not only a simple cycling race, it's a chance for small and isolated cities to get known.

Le Tour is one of the most important sports event of the year in France. It's one of the sports event you can see without paying, and somehow without moving. Fans or curious just have to move to their front doors, set their chairs and tables, prepare food and drinks, write some racing cyclists' names on flags and get ready. In the contrary unlucky fans will drive hours to just barely see 20 seconds of the race, the time for the racing cyclists to speed by.

Generally people say they like le Tour because they don't have to come and watch it; le Tour is coming to see them.

Le Tour is not only cyclists' riding; it's a fully commercial event that enables sponsors to get known.

Before the cyclists cross the town, a lot of cars, trucks will advert and throw commercials funny items to the fans, i.e Coca-Cola will throw some little bottles, some banks like "le Credit Agricole" will throw some caps or T-shirts. Some samples like fake sunglasses, pens, deodorants , newspapers, lottery tickets, food samples are also thrown to the crowd. This moment is as famous as the race, it's so much fun for the crowd. In a childlike ambience, everyone tries to catch as many items as they can even if they know they won't use most of them.

Le Tour is also a way of discovering France and its deep countryside. Watching le Tour on TV is like watching a sport event while discovering unknown landscapes or famous places.

On le Tour, you can meet some really eccentric people, such as an old couple who will follow the racing cyclists on their bikes. They said they usually sleep in their trailer, and just want to know what it's like running the stages.

As a little kid, I witnessed one stage of le Tour. I was in middle school when le Tour crossed our village. Kids and teachers deserted the school heading for the best spots to watch their favorite stars.
Everyone was trying to jump and climb on the highest places of the streets, just to be able to stare at the cyclists for less than a minute.

I remember catching items thrown from the cars, three hours before the crucial moment. I remember the race as a 20-second joyful moment, it went so fast. Most of the crowd would remain focused on the road in case more cyclists would pass by.

In fact some cyclists may be late. Their teams will get mad, but not their fans who see it as a chance to live their dreams until the very last while racing cyclists disappeared at the end of the road, heading for another region.


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
Best viewed 800 x 600.