I’ve been tuning in now and then to the Tour de France over the past few days. Until now I’ve never been a big fan of this bike race. Never really followed Lance Armstrong through his amazing seven wins.

All I know about the Tour de France is the so called elephant in the room. A month or so back 60 Minutes ran a lengthy piece on doping by Tour riders. Shocked and sad was my reaction to learn that doping was apparently so widespread. And the common excuse was “because everybody else is doing it”. Ironic, no, that something some riders undertook to give them an edge seems to have spread to the majority of bikers just to keep things on a level playing field.

But if we put that to one side for a moment I was entranced by the Tour coverage. There’s just something majestic about these riders gliding through the French countryside. And the sprints away from the peloton and towards each stage’s finish line leave one with their heart in their mouth.

But the most amazing thing to watch is the countryside itself. The farmer’s fields, the old villages and towns with their ancient red-roofed villas, castles and churches. The scenery is magnificent and competes for the viewer’s attention with the speeding bicycles.

And the locals are amazing. You’ll see what I mean in this video of a tribute to the Tour by French farmers…

If I didn’t know better I’d think the coverage was all about promoting tourism to France rather than showcasing international athletes.