Disliking bike races in the way that I do, is probably a sign that I am no real Belgian. (I should have a serious talk with my mother about this.)
Much worse then what I called ‘Football Mania’ when I was living in Argentina, is this “Bike Mania” here in Belgium.
What a day this was indeed! The photographer in me thinks that maybe I should have gone to Brussels today, together with the 500.000 fans that have been counted to be present at the big start , the “grand départ”, of the Tour de France. Just like I went to the Grand Place last year to shoot the Red Devils who had made it to the world cup semi finals. But then again, no!
You read me well! The Tour de France, which literally translates into ‘tour of France’, in case you didn’t get that, the tour (race) on bicycles (bikes) around France has taken off in Brussels this year. For those people that are not so good at geography : Brussels, the Capital of Belgium, which, as far as I know, is still an independent country and certainly no part of France.
Every other minute some kind of newsflash vibrates on my watch. News alerts from both newspapers and tv stations alike, about the amount of people present, how the city of Brussels had become totally inaccessible, tips on how to get there if you happen to be desperate, an article on why it is important that it started in Brussels, an article on how it is the most polluting event on the world (this in an era of global climate awareness 🤔) and a couple of dozen other newsflashes that I didn’t even read. On the radio music and normal shows have been canceled for constant live covering. Even my husband -who wouldn’t even watch the world cup if it weren’t for me- sits next me watching the tour, live on his phone ;”They are sprinting” he tells me, apologetically.
It will not be missed, it can not be ignored. The tour 2019 is on again. I remember my astonishment when I was living in argentina, where they cover the complete race live on TV, in many -if not all- coffee shops and restaurants. At the time I thought that was insane, and we even googled the amount of people watching the tour in comparison to the -in my opinion- much more fun to watch and follow World Cup.
Well, if you google it you find out we were not the only one to wonder, a lot has been written about that. 3,3 Billion people seem to watch the tour, and a mere 3,5 billion watch the World Cup.
The amount of 3,3 billion viewers sounds insane, especially if you know there are only 11,5 million Belgians. Who else is watching?
In Belgium biking is big. We are supposed to have many good bikers, we have a biking tradition. Every Belgian man in his midlife crisis feels the need to bike up that “Mont Ventoux” in France (much better than getting a much young mistress I would say). And not to be forgotten : the best biker of all times was our own (Belgian) Eddy Merckx. He won the TDF 5 times (actually he won 11 “grand tours” to name but a few of his victories, but his list of accomplishments is too long to copy here), and the first time he did so was 50 years ago, so it’s in honour of this half god as we Belgians see him, that the tour started in our capital this year. 3,3 billion people have seen it. He deserved it.
The TDF will be omnipresent for the next 3 weeks.
I need some diversion. Maybe I can go biking somewhere? 😄 Any ideas?
PS photo was taken last year during the homecoming of our football team the red devils.