Vive Le Grand Boucle

My colleagues thought I was a bit (more) pathetic (than usual) last week when I downed tools and headed into the city to join the Cadel-ebration in Federation Square. It was a spontaneous decision to attend (many apologies to the interviewer who I inadvertently and absent-mindedly stood up by making that choice) but here’s the gist of my rationale:

1. My cycling mates and I got truckloads of pleasure watching Cadel win the Tour De France. What a race he rode!
2. What if the turn-out was poor? I’d hate it Oprah Winfrey could pull a bigger crowd in sports-mad Melbourne than a local hero.
3. I rarely take a lunch break. Time to smash that tradition.

So I turned up, joined the throng and found myself more than 300 metres from the stage. Even the Premier looked tiny at that range.

What made it all worthwhile was the look on Cadel’s face when he took the stage. I don’t know him personally – only from reading his blog, book and various media appearances. He strikes me as a humble, honest and thoughtful bloke who would prefer to avoid the spotlight – and has struggled in its glare in the past. On Friday, he couldn’t stop smiling.

When the ever impressive ABC radio journalist Gerard Whateley asked Cadel if he’d “had a moment of true satisfaction that you’ve achieved what you set out … to do?”, Cadel’s answer was: “Yeah, right now.” That made joining the yellow crush meaningful.

I’ve written before about how the Tour De France serves up a soap opera every stage. There are daily subplots, adding drama to the main story. I could write many a paragraph on the epic narrative of the 2011 race and the characters involved.

I won’t. Instead I’ll finish with a quote from Cadel that should have wider application, especially to authors. Gerard Whateley asked Cadel about a 1998 prediction he could be the first Australian to win the Tour de France – and how long it took to believe it. Cadel answered thus:

“Let’s say at first I hoped. And then I worked. And then I started to believe. And then I was convinced. And then finally I could prove myself.”

You can read the whole interview here.

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