Got back home from travels in Scotland and Northumberland only to find that there had been major developments in today’s Tour de France.
In previous years the Tour has suffered from doping scandals but this year’s burning issue is… carpet tacks.
On the punishing Mur de Péguère climb a spectator is believed to have thrown carpet tacks across the road to derail the leading riders.
Thirty or more riders had punctures including former champion, Cadel Evans, who had to stop three times to change bikes.
Luckily for him, sportsmanship still lives in the Tour – and the peloton (urged on by Bradley Wiggins in the yellow jersey) waited for Team BMC to catch up with the main group.
It provoked memories of the 2009 Etape Caledonia, a controversial event held on closed roads in Scotland, which led to numerous ‘deliberate’ punctures among the 3,500 riders.
So much for the worries around the London Olympics around security (an important issue, I know) but here is a classic case of ‘sports terrorism’ at work.
Whoever threw the tacks onto the road meant to derail the race.
Is that the price we pay for international events with a huge competitive cachet?
Or is it simply a lone idiot or hooligans trying to spoil the race for everyone else by sabotaging the result?
Cheating has never been far away, from the earliest days of the Tour de France to recent history when doping has been to the fore.
The 1904 Tour de France was one of the most scandalous with riders taking shortcuts and using cars and trains.
The following year saw nails being strewn on the course, a strategy that continued on several later Tours.
At least today we have a fighting chance of catching the culprit or culprits thanks to CCTV and TV coverage.
Let’s hope the cheaters get caught and that the rest of the Tour is a less tacky affair… for the sake of a good race.