This is a pleasure that i had not anticipated at the beginning of the 2011 Tour de France ! Frankly having seen Cadel looking so tired before the ITT of the Dauphine Libere in Grenoble i commented to the team Doctor that i felt he was not at the top of his game ! Certainly that day he did less than was expected of him and thus was second to Wiggins at the end of that Tour !
During the period of the 2000 Sydney Olympics i first heard of Cadel and was able to meet him at the "Rundfahrt Ossterreich " in 2001 whilst he rode for SAECO and i was on the Kitzbuehler Horn when he took the win the next day . Cadel has always been hard to get alongside during the various tours that i would meet him at but was always gracious enough to autograph the various items that i would pass to " Disabled / Behinderten / Physically Challenged Sport " over the years . In London at the Grand Depart there he warned that he had little time for talking to " fans " and the team "distanced " the media during that event so that he could get the personal space that was needed for recovery each night .
NOT being involved in Cycling before the World Ski Championships in 1997 at Sestriere i had no idea of the Downhill scene let alone the Mountain Bike Stars . In fact i went to a Downhill event in 1998 and was delighted to see an Aussie out of Perth take 3rd place and whilst chatting to him after he passed me his goggles which are in my possession to this day . Who knows where they are in my luggage but i recall using them when ski touring on several occasions .
So often over the years i have been asked if i am a fan of particular Cycle Racers but always answer "I am a fan of Fair Play " , for me the important thing is not the nationality but the attitude to the sport .
Being in Mendrisio was a rare pleasure as i was a VIP guest of the locals and meeting and greeting the "Ancients " of the sport was a day to remember . Where i was entertained was close to the finish line so seeing the action on TV , cycling around the area and then seeing Cadel physically cross the line was a memory i will treasure . During the day i greeted Sean Kelly , Carmine Castilana and many others as well as sampling the local wines and cuisine .
There will be people who will dispute my opinion BUT " Waltzing Matilda " would have been more appropriate for the Ceremony on the Champs Elysee on Sunday ! Cadel has always been for me the epitome of the " LITTLE AUSSIE BLEEDER " and i think that all " DIGGERS " will agree with me !
Having been at Grenoble for the ITT of the Dauphine Libere i was quite content to miss the Hoopla on Saturday and follow the action on the TV and enjoyed watching Cadel " Bunny hop " after the 3rd time check as he headed downhill !
IN 1998 i rode the Champs Elysee through the caravan with the French Flag from the Hotel Carillon and an Aussie Flag from Georges of the bar near Brussels Airport so having that experience it has been some years since i have visited the Champs Elysee on the Sunday as trawling around the back of the barriers farewelling people until next year tends to be " Hit or Miss " !