Whatever one might feel about protesters disrupting the Tour on Tuesday, there can be no denying the legitimacy of their feelings or the validity of their cause. By now, only the most obtuse or ignorant deny that our climate is changing and in its most obvious form – it is getting hotter.
Snow is still a somewhat common feature of the Giro when it reaches the Dolomites – but it’s held in early/mid May. The Tour is run in July and good weather is expected. As the riders have slogged up and into the Alps in recent days, the crowds and the gradients are still there but what is missing? Snow. Look at this picture from 1980 taken on the Galibier. The riders are clearly riding above the snow line. Today? There might be a bit of snow high above the riders, but in 1980 the snow level in July was still below the heights the riders scaled.
The picture above was taken on Stage 17 on Bastille Day in 1980 – a 242 kilometers (151 miles) ride from Serre Chevalier to Morzine over the Galibier, Madeleine and Joux-Plane. He we see Johan deMuynck going over the Galibier in first place; he wouldn’t finish the stage in the top ten, but overall would finish fourth on general classification.
A lot has changed since 1980 in the world of cycling: no more steel bikes, wool jerseys, or real chamois in the shorts. Race distances are shorter. Lighter, technically much more advanced bikes are the norm, team buses, better nutrition, and greater fitness have become standard. Many of these changes have been positive, but beyond the sport many changes do not augur well for cycling or the world.
Excellent! When men were men … and sheep were scared!
Thanks to Wiscot for a new, and topical, Gazzetta article,