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Tour de Suisse…Not to Misse

20 June 2008 No Comment

I have written about the amazing sport of cycling. Sure, there are the Lance Armstrongs, the doping dramas, the killer spills on the mountains and the admirable endurance of the atheletes. But, it is the fan experience that makes cycling on of the best events to behold.
Our intention was not to go to another sporting event except for two Euro Cup matches. We were hoping to take a leisure turn to Tocino, Switzerland- the Italian part of the country. Andrew did his research, of course, and found an event to pull our attention away from the guide books: The Tour de Suisse.
Sure, it was risky but given my warm fuzzy feelings about the Tour de France, which was more about de brie and wine, made me take a leap of faith on this event. We drove from Lucerne to the town of Ambri, where the sixth stage of the race was set to take off. After over an hour of driving and a 10 mile trip through a tunnel, we emerged in an area that was more like Italy than Switzerland. We saw the town in the distance and at first, it appeared to be a desolate airport in the middle of the Alps. No churches, old buildings or castles to speak about. As we got closer, another picture emerged. A festival of wine, cheese, fondue, cycling and elegant Italian (Swiss-Italian) fans. I went right up to the wine vendor and Italian flowed out of my mouth….”Cuanto cuesta para un vaso de rosso?” I only learned this survival Italian through traveling and trust me, ordering wine is probably all you need to know.
The cyclists interacted and warmed-up around the fans and there was a true celebration in the middle of the mountains…away from any cities, any football fans, or noise. It was just a peacefulness. The race started with fanfare that broke the silence. The crowd leaned againt the rails, waved flags and toasted as the cyclists got started. As fast as it began, it ended and Andrew and I enjoyed the afternoon, sitting in a field in the Alps with four side of mountains and one bottelo de vino.

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