Road Cycling

The Correct Way To Watch The Tour De France, In 9 Easy Steps

There's far more to it than simply plonking yourself in front of the telly...

1. Break From The Pack

Let’s face it, you’re probably the only person you know who actually wants to watch the Tour De France.

It’s a solitary life as a full-kit-wanker, so take off your underwear, pull on your spandex leotard and sit there spraying beer into your sad face with your squeegee bottle, completely and utterly on your own. You can wet yourself too if you like, just like the pros.

2. Vent At The Route Tossers

The exhibitionist pissheads who moon at the camera and leap into the path of the riders are nothing compared to the creepy, obsessed Tourspotters who repeatedly pop up now and then along the route. Hating them and screaming at the telly just means you are still human.

See if you can spot “Didi”, the old man who dresses as the Devil and leaps up and down, gurning like he’s about to be hung for treason – which might actually happen if we all touch the telly at the same time and pray.

Le Tour superfan “Didi”

3. Insert Random Facts

Tell your spouse/mates/kids/budgie a Le Tour factoid that is blatantly made-up, just to see if they’re paying attention.

The polka-dot jersey is awarded to the most fabulous rider of the day

The whole mental endeavour is so weird to outsiders that they won’t even bat an eyelid when you tell them that the polka-dot jersey is awarded to the most fabulous rider of the day.

Or that there’s a stage of the race known as Le Grand Malentendu, or “The Large Mistake”. Or that a dog entered – and came second – in 1928. Or that the police outriders have to be extra careful as one of them won once (because technically you don’t have to be on a bike or even entered to win).

There is an official whose title is “Le Concasseur Testicule”. A banned substance you can test positive for is Febreeze. Tell them you won it once.

I dunno, think of something funny.

4. Embrace The Frenchness

A Frenchman, yesterday

Le Tour is definitely French. Everything about it. Even when it starts in Leeds or Utrecht.

The French themselves get as equal parts excited and depressed about Le Tour as we are about football: we invented it, we even did good at it once in the 1960s, but now we’re totally rubbish and the whole world knows it. Yet for some reason it’s still ‘ours’.

5. Go “Ooooh!” At Crashes

It’s one of the best feelings in the world, watching a mangling go down and it not involving you. I’m not a sadist, science says we all totally love it.

6. Know Your French Terminology

You’ll hear words like “grimpeur” (climber) and of course “peloton” (pack), but there are more obscure bits of jargon such as “domestiques”, meaning the lesser team riders whose function it is to simply back up the champs.

The “Voiture Balai” is the Broom Wagon – a car that picks up the worst of the stragglers and physically drives them off and out of the race.

Try Googling the French for “Slow Child”, “Bad Pants” or “Drug Beast”

My fave is “Lanterne Rouge”, which is the name of the last rider who actually officially finishes a stage – as in the red lights on the arse of a vehicle.

It’s lots of fun to hit Google Translate and create some glossary entries of your own – try Googling the French for “Slow Child”, “Bad Pants” or “Drug Beast”.

7. Take Every Aspect Very Very Very Seriously

Basically, you’re a part-timer unless your spouse leaves you and takes the kids. Sport isn’t supposed to be fun. If you want a ‘fun’ sport, go enter an egg-and-spoon race, you massive village idiot.

8. Commercial TV Stations? NON

Last year I went in person to the first half of day one, then rushed to my oldies house nearby to watch ‘our bit’ on the telly. ITV managed to do so many things wrong it was like William Shatner stressing all the wrong words of Shakespeare.

A helicopter mooched around filming nearby ‘hills of interest’

As well as the coverage, they’d spent a gazzilion quid on an extra helicopter that basically just mooched around filming nearby ‘hills of interest’. Besides from cutting away to ads literally the moment anything interesting happened like OOH I DUNNO Britain’s likeliest contender crashing, they also liked to cut away at vital moments for no other reason than the scenery chopper had just arrived bang on time at another nice hill about 50 miles from THE BIKE RACE.

Commercial TV is built around ads, and the content is pretty much secondary. When your content is a very long and ‘boring’ thing then the brain donors who run these things will drop in a host of fillers and ads, all of which runs to a very particular schedule slot – a schedule almost entirely incompatible with the spontaneous, random events that occur during the world’s greatest bike race.

The commentators knew nothing about either bike racing or how to pronounce a single local name

All of this buffoonery was elevated to truly unbelievable levels thanks to commentators who knew nothing about either bike racing, or how to pronounce a single local name.

The solution here is to hang off a bit until the ad-free-but-delayed-by-an-hour online streams kick, and then pretend like hell that it’s an hour earlier. A bit like when daylight saving time kicks in.

9. Big Arses And Nutbags

You know you look.


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