By Monte Wehrkamp
I turned on the TV this morning and turned to NBC Sports Channel. Maybe, just maybe, there’d be a Tour de France recap – a special – with interviews and highlights. Maybe Paul Sherwin and Phil Liggett would be back just one more morning, starting my day with the pageantry and color of another morning filled with the Tour de France. Just a little more. Please.
Instead, NBC Sports was running their old standby Best Ever series. Best ever football player, or baseball first baseman, or whatever it is that lets talking sports heads argue with each other in louder-than-necessary voices.
It’s time I face it. Again. Still. I’m in Tour de France withdrawal. Like I was last year. And the year before that. And the year…
They say it takes three weeks — 21 days — for something to become a habit. (They being more than a few expert studies I found just now on the interwebs.) Which is exactly how long the Tour de France lasts.
Every morning in July I get up, make coffee, feed five furkids, and start breakfast for the humans of the house. Keeping me company are the sights and sounds of the Tour, this year on a new, room-dominating, high-def, big-screen TV. Sometime mid-way through the live coverage, I turn off the TV and head off to work, only to pick up the stage later in the evening after I get home and gone on my own post-work ride. The Tour de France bookends of my day. Frames it. Begins and completes it.
Hoped against hope
So I hoped against hope that maybe there’d be just one more day of coverage this morning. Perhaps Tour officials would find it in their hearts to give Van Garderen one more superhuman effort to ride away with a stage win. Let Contador have another chance to see if he and his Saxo teammates could take some time out of Froome and the Sky machine. Maybe Jensie could give us a fairy tale ending and make his famous Shut-Up-Legs solo breakaway stick just one more time on this, his last Tour.
The Tour’s over (and out)
It’s over, this year’s Tour, just when I’m completely addicted to my new, old habit.
Disappointed but not surprised, I switched over to WGN Morning News. How I wished, just to ease my pain, they would’ve let Phil and Paul guest-host the show.
PAUL: And here we have our shot from the weather copter, Phil.
PHIL: Yes indeed; we’ve got a great look now at what both tourists and locals call “the Bean.”
PAUL: Cloud Gate, I believe it’s actually called.
PHIL: It is! Created by British artist Anish Kapoor, it’s the centerpiece Chicago’s of Millennium Park. You can see already this morning people enjoying the distorted reflections in the polished surface.
PAUL: Yes, and with that we turn our attention to the weather, which will offer a small break to the heavy humidity and oppressive heat we’ve suffered of late.
PHIL: More thunderstorms popping up this afternoon, Paul, so do try, everyone, to get in your afternoon rides early today or risk some wet and slippery conditions.
Not quite the same effect
No more Phil. Or Paul. Or Bobke or screaming fans getting far too close to the riders for comfort. No more sitting on the edge of the couch wondering if Tejay can pull off a heroic finish. Or grumbling at the steep decline of old favorites like Cadel and Andy. Cheering on new favorites like Quintana and Sagan. Back to reality. Life without the Tour, just as it had become a habit.
However, there is one tiny bright side.
American Hair of the Dog
The USA Pro Tour Challenge starts in just 29 days. Which is more than enough time to return me back to my regularly scheduled life.