'Yeah, he won the Tour de France seven times,' are the last words spoken in the much hyped documentary The Armstrong Lie. The words are spoken by Lance Armstrong himself. Lance Armstrong the self-confessed drugs cheat, fraud, liar and bully. If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that Lance Armstrong certainly didn't win the Tour de France seven times.
Arrive at Toulouse, Geneva or Verona airports this weekend, head to baggage reclaim and you'll spot them lurking. Dressed in shorts, a Rapha T-shirt and with a pair of Oakleys perched on their close-cropped head of hair, these middle-aged men wait nervously by the oversized baggage area as unwieldy bike boxes are unloaded with a clatter. These are the Col Collectors
In the past three weeks on the roads and up the mountains of France perhaps an opportunity has been starting to unfold. The greatest cycling race in the world, which in its centenary edition remains defiantly French in every detail of its character and organisation , is becoming a part of our British sporting summer too.
Sir Bradley Wiggins' efforts in winning the Tour de France last summer, followed by Olympic gold, Sports Personality of the Year and rocking out with his guitar at the after party - combined with the rise and success of British Cycling at both the Beijing and London Olympics - have made cycling not only more popular as a spectator sport, but enormously popular as a participation sport.
On Sunday, the English cyclist Chris Froome swept down the Champs-Élysées to win the 100th Tour de France. He is only the second ever Englishman to carry off the famous yellow jersey, following Bradley Wiggins' triumph last year. But as Froome's fans shout 'allez!' the youth of France are more likely to be crying to each other 'barrez'; which roughly translates as 'scram', 'beat it', 'get out of here'... An open letter published in Le Point magazine by a Sorbonne student called 'Clare G' claimed that half of 18 to 34-year-olds would leave France.