Austin is feeling the Tour de France spirit

As I’ve mentioned before in the RoadLoans blog, cycling is a huge part of the Austin, Texas, community. The residents are big on enjoying outdoor activities, the accessibility to bike lanes is great, and there is a beautiful lakeside route that provides a backdrop for the cyclists I see all over Austin on a daily basis. Austin bike month really brought out the spirit of cycling, and now with the Tour de France nearing its end this weekend, I can see this spirit emerging again.

The Tour de France has been a competitive cycling showcase since 1903. Every year, sports fans direct their attention to the three-week-long race, generally considered one of the most prestigious cycling events worldwide.

Cyclists from all over the world ride through the beautiful mountain sceneries of the Great Pyrenees and the French Alps, eventually finishing their race on the historic Champs-Élysées in Paris. The race extends from France to multiple cities and countries throughout Europe, with the addition of a new destination city most years. The event appeals to a variety of fans, with people lining up along the route to grab a quick glimpse of their favorite rider and see the amazing athletes trek their way through the long, mountainous route.

The Tour de France route winds through breathtaking mountain scenes.

The buildup to this year’s race was filled with excitement as many of the world’s best riders were expected to contend for the yellow jersey including: Vincenzo Nibali, Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana, Joaquim Rodríguez, as well as a few French riders, and our own American favorites like Tejay van Garderen and Andrew Talansky. Fans had high hopes to see any number of great performances come out of this group of athletes.

However, looking at the current standings as of this writing, we may or may not be surprised by what the race brought this year. Froome is in the top spot with Quintana behind him by several minutes – the same No. 1 and No. 2 results of the 2013 Tour. But competing alongside them are Spaniard Alejandro Valverde and Geraint Thomas from Wales. Although not everyone could have anticipated this turn of events, that is what the race is for: to keep people on their toes and show what these athletes are really made of.

Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana in the lead. Photo: Ciclismo Italia

Some of the favorite athletes, such as Van Garderen and others who held a strong lead throughout the race, have actually withdrawn from the race due to unforeseen circumstances. While some athlete withdrawals have to do with drugs or rules violations, it is very common for strong contenders to get injured during the race through a crash or their bodies just beginning to wear down under the extreme physical toll.

This year’s race has been nothing short of exciting. Each year comes with new contenders and new surprises, making this a sporting event unlike any other and a great sight to see. I am excited to see how this one turns out, and if one of the popularly anticipated leaders will come out in front, or fall behind the rest.

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