On the Sidelines

The latest blog from Lindsey, partner to Paul Voss

1 week until Paul leaves for the Tour. Proud? Of course I am. But another word I associate with the Tour is fear. The Tour de France is one of the most renowned races in the world. It’s coveted yellow jersey is the epitome of road cycling, you’ll never forget the name of the one who steps onto on the podium and is awarded the maillot jaune. While this jersey is without a doubt life changing, the Tour offers endless opportunities for life changing results. Riders will empty themselves to go in the break. Their resilience, determination and strength to resist being caught is recognised and at the same time, their sponsors satisfied. Riders will fight against the agonising pain to crest a hill before everyone else to adorn the King of the Mountains jersey or sprint like never before the gain points towards the Green Sprinters Jersey.

So if this race has the potential to be life changing, why am I instilled with fear? Why am I feeling like I would do anything to stop him going. This could be it – this could be his chance. He could show the world what I already know and that’s how great he really is on and off the bike. But I sit at home, out for coffee with friends or on the bike in the middle of nowhere, thinking.

2015 was a dark time for the Tour. The glamour and romance of the tour was stripped with each crash that caused injury, put a riders’ career on hold, and also put the life of riders in danger – which unfortunately, isn’t an overreaction. ‘It comes with the sport’, perhaps that’s true, the sport is dangerous and riding a bike is dangerous. But I can’t help but view the riders as sons, fathers and partners, and not just performers. The sport has come leaps and bounds to be where it is. Overcoming adversity, reeling itself back in from it’s self-destruction. But I have spent this year scrolling through Twitter and feeling my heart drop at the news of another crash. Yet another incident resulting from what can only be described as inconsistence and negligence.

Motorbikes and barriers are the first thing that spring to mind, but the list goes on. Crashes happen in the sport, riders are aware of this. With experience, they learn to notice subtle movements that allow them to ride just inches from one another at high speed. That’s no small feat. But avoiding a motorbike driving alongside them while descending or having to pre-assess every inch of the barriers that are there as protection for both spectators and riders, whilst beaming with adrenaline in the closing kilometres of a race, isn’t a skill they should have to learn. Mistakes can happen, but a mistake is only a mistake if it’s made just once. But as partners to professional cyclists know, we have to put a lot of trust into the organisers, the teams and spectators to see cycling as an art and more than just a performance.

Saying goodbye to Paul is never easy. But the thought of standing along the Champs-Élysées with thousands of spectators, spotting that Bora Argon 18 jersey and catching a glimpse of him whiz by in the peloton, doing what he loves and does so well – well, that’s incredible and that’s the image I will replay for the next three weeks, along with the hope that this race will regain it’s beauty through its level of safety, organization and overall precedent to other races, so that just like Paul, the future generation view the Tour de France as the race of their dreams.

 

Words: Lindsey Walker @thecurlycyclist