Every year the Tour de France is filled with excitement in the form of breakaways, chases, sprints, and sometimes, even crashes. Hard as it is to pick just five great Tour de France moments from the hundreds available, I’ve done it.
Here are my top five Tour de France Moments, starting with number five and working to the one that, no matter how many Tours I watch, will likely always be my favorite.
2006 Tour de France, Stage 17. Floyd Landis puts in an amazing performance, making up an incredible amount of the time he lost in a pathetic performance the day before. Unfortunately, Landis’ failed drug test tainted his entire performance, and his Tour win was stripped from him. I include this as one of my top Tour de France moments, however, because it’s one of those scenarios where it’s the best and worst at the same time: at the time the ride took place it was exciting and incredible to watch, making it a top moment for me; the knowledge of the drugs came much later.
1995 Tour de France, Stage 17. Riders honor rider Fabio Casartelli, who died after a crash in stage 15. Casartelli’s teammates on the Motorola team were allowed to come to the front of the peloton, and cross the finish line together. It was a classy show of respect by all the riders after what had to have been terrifying and sad for them all.
2003-2005 Tours de France, winner’s podium. While it was really nice to have an American racing for an American team on the podium, like Lance Armstrong first did in 1999, it wasn’t until he stood on the podium in 2003, for the fifth, record-tying year, that it really became a top Tour de France moment.
When he did it the next year, and the year after that, making history, each of those appearances on the winner’s podium was significant, because you didn’t know if that would be the last one, or if he’d be able to do it again. Watching history being made is always exciting and makes an impression.
2003 Tour de France, Stage 9. Lance Armstrong is riding behind Joseba Beloki, who crashes in front of him. In order not to go down himself, Armstrong steers off the road into a field. Appearing as if he’s just out for a ride in a park, and not possibly taking a time-killing, stage-killing detour, he keeps riding through the field until he gets back on the road, and continues racing. I remember watching this with my mouth open, shaking my head in disbelief, and then laughing in delight after he rejoined the other riders.
Here is my top Tour de France moment, the one that tops them all, and will probably always be my favorite Tour memory, no matter how many other Tours I watch:
1989 Tour de France, final time trial. Greg LeMond catches up with and passes the race leader, French rider Laurent Fignon, erasing a deficit of almost a minute, and going ahead by eight seconds, the lead with which he won the Tour. This is probably on every top Tour de France moments list ever compiled, but that’s because it was an amazing performance.
This particular Tour de France moment has even more significance for me, because this is what turned me on to the Tour de France. I had never even heard of the race and only caught this part of it because I was flipping TV channels out of boredom. I tuned in just a little bit before LeMond actually caught up with Fignon; the excitement and enthusiasm of the broadcasters as they announced that LeMond was gaining rapidly on Fignon caught my attention, and I stayed tuned to find out what it was all about. I liked what I saw, and after the race was over I researched the Tour, and made plans to watch it the next year. I’ve been addicted ever since.
As I said earlier, it’s really difficult to select only five great Tour de France moments from years past, and with each race, there are likely to be new favorites. Each of the five moments listed above is a great memory for me, and part of what makes the Tour de France such a great reason to spend a good portion of the month of July in front of the television.
Tour de France