Tour De France 2013: Early Non-Cycling Drama Has Helped Pique Fan Interest
In any event that spans over the course of nearly a month, it's going to be hard to sustain consistent fan interest to the happenings that have shaped things prior to the final stretch.
The 2013 Tour de France is no different, with the riders all competing for different classification championships, they just aren't doing it quickly—cycling's great race isn't expected to be completed until there's only a handful of days left in July.
Lucky for cycling and everyone who is a fan of the sport and the great race but has a hard time keeping up with the marathon that is the 21 stages of the Tour de France, some early drama that has had nothing to do with the riders or even the yellow jersey has helped keep all eyes on the French countryside over the first three days of action.
And things are really just getting started at the 100th Tour de France.
Simon Gerrans took home the Stage 3 victory on Monday, earning some press for his Orica-GreenEDGE team as the first-ever Australian squad to capture a stage at any Tour de France. He sits third in the general classification standings behind Day 2 winner Jan Bakelants.
CyclingNews.com had this tweet as the Aussie rider celebrated what will go down as an historic win for his country when we look back in a few years:
News: Video: Gerrans celebrates first Tour de France win for Orica-GreenEdge: Australian talks about his metam... http://t.co/NVZQu72JXy— Cyclingnews.com (@Cyclingnewsfeed) July 1, 2013
Ironically, it likely won't be making history as a nation that Orica-GreenEDGE is remembered for when fans and riders look back at the 2013 race.
During Stage 1 on Saturday, the Orica-GreenEDGE bus was involved in one of the strangest incidents you'll ever see. As the riders barreled down the final stretch of the route that started in Porto-Vecchio and ended in Bastia, something no one expected to affect the final times of the day did.
Marcel Kittel took home the yellow jersey on Day 1, but he did so amidst chaos of both a major accident in the field and a bus that was stuck under the awning at the original finish line.
In a mad dash, race officials tried to move the finish line up and then back to the original finish spot once the tires were deflated and the bus was cleared out of the way, but by then times had been compromised and the damage had been done.
On Day 2, the animal kingdom decided it would try it's luck with the Tour de France.
As you can see in this post from ABC World News, a dog tried it's luck with the men on the bikes, and almost paid the ultimate price from running away from its owner on Sunday:
The furry creature also almost caused a wreck in the process, and made both of the opening stages of the 2013 event something no one could have scripted once, much less twice.
The action through the first two days prompted BBC Radio 5 to ponder what was next before Day 3's stage began:
The answer was a win for Orica-GreenEDGE and the Australians, and what should be a joyous occasion for the country has turned into just a footnote on all the other crazy events that have happend through three days in France.
As we move toward the team time trial on Tuesday and a chance for the different squads to pick up some huge points, it's hard not to appreciate the crazy activities as giving fans an excuse to tune in to the 21-stage race in its infancy over the next few days.
Sure, there's a good chance Bakelants will be unseated and a new champion will rise over the course of the next two weeks or so, but the unpredictability of the Tour de France has only been highlighted by the unpredictability factors that have nothing to do with the race.
Just think—there might be those out there doing some research on the race solely because of the events of the first three days. Hopefully it's led them to posts like this from VeloNews, which previews the Stage 4 trial in Nice on Tuesday:
Preview: Nice's stage 4 team time trial at the Tour de France is one for the powerhouses. http://t.co/sTD4Lkhyrl— VeloNews (@velonews) July 1, 2013
More than anything else, it's been a blessing that no one has been injured or otherwise disposed by the events of the first three days. The big crash during the bus fiasco and the dog incident could have been much worse—and then there would be nothing to celebrate.
Luckily, the added excitement helped remind casual fans that there is something special about competing in and winning this race, and that tuning in for the final stage takes away from the luster of the previous 20 stages that helped shape the course of the race.
The sports gods have shined on the Tour de France so far, and we can only hope the next 18 stages will be as action-packed as the first three. If they are half as good, we're in for a real treat.
Follow Bleacher Report FC Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.
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