Did this herald a new beginning for cycling? If Paris is the most romantic city on earth, its familiar landmarks, bathed in the gloaming, were now rekindling a tempestuous affair. The Arc de Triomphe, illuminated against the night sky, the sequins on the maillot jaune shimmering as a gentle breeze drifted down the boulevard of broken dreams, it was easy to be lost in the moment. And what a moment. Chris Froome, a second successive British winner after a century in which les rosbifs failed to get it. An African heritage too, an inspiration to all those Kenyan children pedalling battered old mountain bikes on roads to nowhere. A time to look forward to a multitude of possibilities. The Tour de France is a venerable institution, so many cherished memories but so much it is desperate to forget. The podium oration of its latest champion struck a poignant chord. Standing the test of time; it is an expression grappling with its own limitations.
The island of Corsica plays host to the opening stage of the Centenary Tour de France this afternoon and it may witness another milestone in the remarkable career of Mark Cavendish. Unusually, the event begins with a sprint stage in which, inevitably, the Manx Missile is the man to beat. Victory would allow him, for a short time at least, to sport the coveted maillot jaune, one extra memorable image for his retirement scrapbook. There are certainly no thoughts of packing in yet though, not when there are plenty more wins to be plundered as he closes in on the few names left above him in the all-time list for this great race. It’s not yellow but green which is his main focus, and though the points system allows for General Classification contenders to figure prominently in this competition too, the Brit has few peers when it comes to a bunch finish. Which begs the question, is a further collection of podium celebrations inevitable over the next few weeks, or does anybody have the quality to stick it up to him?