Ah France, a land of wine, cheese, beautiful scenery, wonderful mountain passes, and barriers that leave our leading man with a broken shoulder blade and in a sling.

With the first week of the Tour de France done and dusted and the riders enjoying a well-earned rest day, we take a look at six things we love about France - some serious, some not so.

 

1 - Their liberal use of the definition ‘Tour de France’

In 1954 it was Amsterdam, in 2007 it was London, Rotterdam in 2010, Liege for 2012, Leeds two years later, Utrecht in 2015 and Dusseldorf just last weekend.

Since the Tour first started on foreign soil, it has regularly roamed around Europe in search of cities willing to pay millions of pounds to host the biggest cycling race in the world.

So while the route may still predominantly Tour around the French nation, they don’t mind sharing the love around the rest of the continent.

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2 - Crash barriers and tarmac

They’re there for a reason, of course they are, but why do they have to be so hard!

If the barrier that Peter Sagan gently nudged (cough) Mark Cavendish into on stage four of the Tour de France had been a little more padded, then who knows, would Cav still be racing, and not watching at home with a broken scapula?

And roads, hey, why do they have to be do hard? Cav sliding down the barrier and onto the tarmac surely can’t have helped matters - there must be a solution to make French roads more springy during the three weeks of Le Tour?!

 

3 - 6mm winning margins

There may be no Cavendish or Sagan, but that doesn’t mean the sprints have been any less hotly contested.

Marcel Kittel has won three, with France’s Arnaud Demare taking the one that saw Cavendish exit hospital door left.

But it was the third of Kittel’s hat-trick that set the pulses racing, with Cavendish’s Dimension Data teammate Edvald Boasson Hagen coming with six millimetres (yes, just six millimetres), of stealing the win from Kittel.

More tight finishes like that please.

 

4 - Slippy descents

Another illustration of where some springy tarmac would have been just the ticket was Sunday’s stage nine.

A monster of a day, with three mountain climbs so huge that they’re deemed ‘beyond categorisation’, saw Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte crash out of the race.

Welshman Thomas suffered a broken collarbone as he went head over handlebars when Rafal Majka crashed directly in front of him on the descent from the Col de la Niche.

And Porte could definitely down with a bit of cushioning as he fell, slid across the road and into a rock face on the way down the Mont du Chat - fortunately both escaped with nothing more serious than broken bones.

 

5 - Its colourful jerseys

We’re a big fan of a bit of colour here at Six Day Cycling, and the jerseys of Le Tour are part of what makes it special.

For more than 100 years the yellow jersey has been one of the most coveted prizes in cycling - barring a Six Day Cycling winners track board of course.

And with the green jersey on offer for the points prize, polkadot for king of the mountains and white for best young rider - the best riders in the race are never difficult to identify.

 

6 - Our favourite Frenchmen, Benjamin Thomas and Morgan Kneisky

We couldn’t leave out our French Madison machines Benjamin and Morgan could we?!

The pair are current world Madison champions, with Thomas also currently wearing the rainbow jersey for world omnium champion.

Kneisky has also won two previous Madison world titles, as well as taking the 2009 scratch race rainbow jersey, too.

The duo also finished seventh at Six Day London 2016 and gave winners Moreno de Pauw and Kenny de Ketele a run for their money at the 2017 Six Day Series Final in Mallorca, before eventually finishing just off the podium

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