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Bacon’s Bites: Not sure about the ‘Entente Cordiale’ as Brits dominate the Tour... again!

Britain's Geraint Thomas, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, drinks as he waits to get started on one stage Photo: PA

Britain's Geraint Thomas, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, drinks as he waits to get started on one stage Photo: PA

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

In his weekly column, Mike Bacon casts his eye over the Tour de France and why he is driving a golf ball more than 300 yards!

Riders climb during the 17th stage of the Tour de France cycling race this year. The mountain climbs are classic sport Photo: PARiders climb during the 17th stage of the Tour de France cycling race this year. The mountain climbs are classic sport Photo: PA

Do you think the French are getting sick of us?

No, don’t worry I’m not talking Brexit...I’m talking Tour de France.

Because as I write this, it looks as though Welshman Geraint Thomas is set to become the sixth Brit in the last seven years to win the Tour.

That really is incredible for a nation that hardly loves cycling – and cyclists!

Oh, come on behave. You know I’m right.

Let’s be honest, most of us curse the poor old cyclist on our busy roads, holding us up as we speed to work or play, while cycle lanes appear there as short cuts for some drivers.

Yet here we are again cheering our good old cyclists home on foreign soil.

Britains Chris Froome, who has won the Tour four times Photo: PABritains Chris Froome, who has won the Tour four times Photo: PA

We are so British... I love it.

Sir Bradley Wiggins was of course the first Brit to win the Tour in 2012. The nation was on a high, what an achievement.

Since then, a British cyclist winning the Tour has become the norm, with Chris Froome winning four of the last five years.

The French must be getting a fed up of it and I’m not sure how the old Entente Cordiale is holding up. The French are rightly very proud of their Tour.

Facts are facts though – and currently it’s Brits who are ruling a race that began in 1903, with French riders winning eight of the first nine that took place. In fact French riders (36) have won the Tour more than any other country, although you have to go back to 1985 to find the last French victor.

I plead with the French not to worry, however. It’s the natural circle of life.

Here in Britain we know all about others hijacking and becoming top dogs in sports we gave the world!

The pack rides during the 16th stage of the Tour de France this year Photo: PAThe pack rides during the 16th stage of the Tour de France this year Photo: PA

And at least you have won the World Cup in recent memory of most of your citizens!

But back to the Tour.

I know a few people who have travelled over to France to watch the planet’s greatest cycling event. Apparently what a sight it is.

Not so much the riders hurtling past in a matter of minutes, but the sights and sounds of fans, who make a day out of waiting for the peloton to fly past.

Wake up early, eat, drink and be merry much of the day... Woooosh! And it’s gone!

But the crowds still flock.

I like watching the hill climbs.

Carnoustie 2018. A fantastic course Photo: PACarnoustie 2018. A fantastic course Photo: PA

Hoards of ‘merry’ cycling fans getting in the faces of the Tour as they make their way up the mountains. It’s pure drama and no other cycling event comes anywhere near the theatre the Tour de France offers.

Sadly, cycling is still suffering difficult headlines, with whisper and gossip rife.

Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France ‘victories’, from 1999 to 2005 erased from the record books is a sad indictment on a sport that is one of the toughest there is.

By the time you read this then, Thomas may be the victor – and here in the UK we will be hailing him.

Good old cyclists!

If so...

Well, France, you can’t have everything sporting to celebrate this long, hot summer.

Australian Craig Parry speaks with Frenchman Jean Van de Velde as he dries his feet after considering to play his ball out of the Barry Burn on the 18th during the final day of the 1999 Open at Carnoustie, Scotland. Van de Velde had a three shot lead going down the last. He ended up with a treble bogey seven and lost the play-off to Paul Lawrie. Photo: PAAustralian Craig Parry speaks with Frenchman Jean Van de Velde as he dries his feet after considering to play his ball out of the Barry Burn on the 18th during the final day of the 1999 Open at Carnoustie, Scotland. Van de Velde had a three shot lead going down the last. He ended up with a treble bogey seven and lost the play-off to Paul Lawrie. Photo: PA

Talking of long, hot summers.

How are you getting on with this heat? – From a sporting point of view I mean.

Blimey, I hit a golf drive 310 yards the other week. It pitched in the middle of the fairway and just ran, and ran, and ran! I’ve never hit a drive so far!

I like summer golf.

Not in the middle of the day of course and so long as I have remembered my factor 50 for my nose.

OK, so the fairways are parched, but for mid-teen handicappers like me that extra 50 yards on the fairway gives me a chance to hit all greens in regulation.

Not that I would have done at Carnoustie, home of last week’s Open, mind you, no matter how far my ball had run.

That’s a difficult course.

I played it back in 1998, a year before Jean van de Velde famously (or is that infamously?) rolled his trouser legs up and went to hit his fourth shot out of the Barry Burn down the 18th as he squandered a three-shot lead on the final hole in the 1999 Open.

You have to admire Van de Velde.

What would have been enough to finish any professional golfer – losing the opportunity to win a Major in the most ridiculous of circumstances – hasn’t seemingly worried him.

He was back on the radio and TV last week talking about ‘that’ last hole in 1999 and shrugging his shoulders.

I think I would have laid in a darkened room for about six years until I had grown a very long beard before appearing in public again had that happened to me.

Still, only a game.

Not sure many non-league games are going to be very enjoyable with current pitches like motorways right now.

Of course there are those who have the opportunity to water their pitches . While 3G and 4G pitches are fine too.

But you average ‘park’ pitch is like rock.

I was never a great one for sliding tackles during my time playing.

And right now, I certainly wouldn’t be putting any in until November at the earliest.

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