The Tour was started to sell copies for l’Auto newspaper and this publication became l’Equipe,
In 2005 I was a football fan with little interest in cycling- I had mountain biked a lot as a teenager but fallen out of the habit of cycling after university. Back then, skinny tyres were always for the ‘roadie scum‘ anyway!
I married a Frenchwoman and during summer holidays, to practice my French reading I’d get l’Equipe in the hope of discovering who the next Thierry Henry was. But to my disappointment the paper was full of cycling and the Tour.
By 2007, I sat up and took notice. We were in the Pyrenees on holiday and the race was passing by. I was determined to watch it, but didn’t have a clue. We tried to drive up one of the climbs in the morning, not knowing that the road is closed hours and hours in advance. We got a spot in between cols at St-Beat, the riders swept through- not the best way to watch a mountain stage. I still got some great photos though.
After Rasmussen’s ejection and the Vinokourov bust, the headlines were big and lurid and I realised this Tour de France thing was pretty big. I think you have Stefan Schuhmacher below- it was still a pretty dirty era and doping stories dominated the pages of l’Equipe.
I paid and more attention to the Tour de France news and I embraced it- clearly a massive event, I decided I was going to get follow it properly. It’s not an exaggeration to say that l’Equipe played a large part in me getting into cycling. In 2008 I bought my first road bike and everything snowballed from there.
Now when I go to France in the summer, I look forward to 6 or more pages of cycling stories, and the full results from the previous day’s stage. Saturdays are good too, with an additional sports magazine. This year they did a feature on sprinters, and Cavendish was voted best of all time.