Ned Boulting, author of 'How I Won the Yellow Jumper', writes that he never imagined a British rider would have such a great chance to win the Tour de France
There are days when you don't need to tell me that I am a lucky bloke to have the job I do. I am fully aware of it. Stage 7
was like that.
Ten years on from my first Tour de France, I was finally able to stand two feet away from a British rider, clad in that mythical piece of nylon-based weave, the Yellow Jersey. As Bradley Wiggins stepped down from the podium (the first time incidentally he has trodden those boards since a Combativite prize in 2007) and teetered on his new-born giraffe legs towards our interview position, I felt a surge of 2003 coming back to me.
It was the Prologue of the centenary Tour, the last time a Briton threatened to lead the race and I was an utter novice. David Millar was the favourite, and should have won the time trial comfortably, had he not unshipped his chain close to the finishing line. Unfamiliar with every single aspect of bike racing, unfamiliar with the Tour, unfamiliar with David Millar and unfamiliar with basic mechanics, the best I had to offer the waiting nation was the feeble line: "David Millar, losing his chance of winning the Yellow Jumper".
That abomination of a broadcast, though, I hope has been the low point (could you get MUCH lower?) of my Tour career. Since then I've learned to love, loathe, dread, admire and feel every bump and turn of the race.
Never though, until winter turned to spring this year, and Wiggins nosed into the role of even-money favourite, did I ever envisage the immediate prospect of the British Tour winner. Not even the devastating impact of Mark Cavendish, who may one day break the all time Tour stage wins record, could prepare me for the very different prospect of standing on a mountain top hailing a historic British 1-2: stage win and race lead.
How long will it last? It could be two weeks. It could be two minutes after I press send on this email back home. That's the Tour.
Brittle, beastly, beautiful.