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Monday, July 7, 2014

Tour de France ..... 'ewe's' view of the proceedings !!

Sheep (Ovis aries) are  ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Numbering a little over one billion, domestic sheep are also the most numerous species of sheep. An adult female sheep is referred to as a ewe;  male as a ram and a younger sheep as a lamb.  Sheep continue to be important for wool and meat today, and perhaps for occasional uses, which is subject matter of this post.

The final English leg of the Tour de France starts later with nearly 200 cyclists racing along the 96-mile (155km) route from Cambridge to London. Riders in the short third stage will leave Parker's Piece in Cambridge and pass through Essex. The race will visit Saffron Walden, Chelmsford and east London, going past the 2012 Olympic Park, before ending at the Mall……… about 2.5 million people lined the Yorkshire route on Saturday and Sunday.

The Tour de France, is an annual multiple stage bicycle race primarily held in France, while also occasionally making passes through nearby countries. The race was first organized in 1903 to increase paper sales for the magazine L'Auto; it is currently run by the Amaury Sport Organisation.  As the Tour gained prominence and popularity the race was lengthened and its reach began to extend around the globe.  Though there are some other races too, the Tour is the oldest and generally considered the most prestigious.  Traditionally, the race is held primarily in the month of July. While the route changes each year, the format of the race stays the same with the appearance of at least two time trials, the passage through the mountain chains of the Pyrenees and the Alps, and the finish on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.  The modern editions of the Tour de France consist of 21 day-long segments (stages) over a 23-day period and cover around 3,500 kilometres (2,200 mi).

Daily Mail reports of the technology which provides ‘ewe-nique’ view of the Tour de France.  Wonder what ? -  Sheep are fitted with ‘action cameras’ to record cyclists as they pass by fields…. ..the article in Daily Mail states that as 198 cyclists begin the gruelling 118-mile (190km) trip across the UK and into France, the first stages will be recorded by an unlikely source - sheep. A total of five ‘sheepcams’ will film the bikes as they pass through Yorkshire town, and the cameras will be controlled remotely by farmer Ian Hammond. Each of the animals from Harewell Hall have been fitted with wearable action cameras from Sony. They are waterproof, include image stabilisation and all five can be controlled at one time with a single remote.

Ian Hammond said: ‘Locally we are really looking forward to the Tour de France coming through Yorkshire, the dales certainly are a good test for cyclists and I’m looking forward to seeing how my flock perform as Sony’s first ever sheep cam’. Earlier,  German entrant Marcel Kittel, 26, warned Yorkshire's roads could be too narrow for the Tour de France. He said the winding streets, enclosed by dry stone walls, were 'risky' for riders taking part in the opening stages.

The event, won last year by Britain's Chris Froome, often includes technically challenging routes, including mountain climbs, narrow streets and cobbled surfaces. A spokesman for Yorkshire's Grand Départ defended the region's roads as testing, but suitable, for the world's best riders.

And anything on Cycline / Tour de France would be incomplete without reference to Armstrong.  Lance Edward Armstrong  won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times between 1999 and 2005 before he was disqualified from all those races and banned from competitive cycling for life, for doping offenses by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) in 2012, after the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) presented its findings. A cancer survivor, he is the founder of the Livestrong Foundation, originally called the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which provides support for cancer patients.

At age 16, Armstrong began competing as a triathlete and was a national sprint-course triathlon champion in 1989 and 1990. In 1992, Armstrong began his career as a professional cyclist with the Motorola team. In October 1996, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his brain, lungs and abdomen. His cancer treatments included brain and testicular surgery and extensive chemotherapy. In February 1997, he was declared cancer-free and the same year he founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation.  In Feb 2011, Armstrong announced his retirement from competitive cycling.  In Aug 2012, a life time ban was issued and the Sports Organising body  USADA which also stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles.

Though he got into controversies, one feels somehow to support him for his strongminded recovery and the public activities that he is involved in .....

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
7th July 2014.

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