So, the Tour de France is coming to Cambridge next week and the shops and businesses on the route are having fun putting their cycle related wares and decorations up in the windows. Pot holes are being filled and the roads are crammed with eager cyclists keen to ride the route… oh, hang on – they’re always here, it is Cambridge after all! Even First Edition have got into the act, providing translations for a local hotel and we’ve also been part of a rather lovely book on the history of the event (see picture), translating it into French some years ago.
Talking of which, the origins of the Tour de France are all rather interesting. It seems to have started with a soldier, Alfred Dreyfus, being convicted (and later exonerated) of selling military secrets to the Germans. Things quickly became quite heated and it turned into quite the cause célèbre – dividing France! Demonstrations were staged by both sides, with one at the Auteuil racecourse in Paris ending with businessman Jules-Albert de Dion hitting the president of France over the head with a walking stick!
The sporting press jumped all over it and, to cut a long story short, some particularly biased reporting by mega sports newspaper Le Vélo resulted in de Dion opening a rival paper – L’Auto. It was not, however, the success the backers hoped for so a crisis meeting was held in 1902, at which the most junior journalist and last to speak, Géo Lefèvre, suggested an unprecedented six-day cycle race around France. Et voilà – the Tour de France was born and raced its first race in 1903.
So there you go! It all kicks off in Leeds on Saturday and will reach our lovely city on Monday morning. The First Edition staff will be battling in, despite road closures and shortened bus rides, and are hoping to see some of the action at lunchtime – the start being just around the corner from our office. Alors, bonne chance aux cyclistes!
Thanks for wikipedia.com for the history lesson.