Chris Prudhomme has once again FAILED to respect Paralympic Sport !
Mine is a minority view , but since the time i met him , as he worked at TV3 , France TV , whilst i was riding the daily TDF Route , i have been telling him , PARA ATHLETES have the ability to ride the Individual Time Trials and seriously CHALLENGE the times that Olympic athletes post ! Some years ago , he told me the day before , that Laurent Thironet , French Para Champion and Para Gold Medalist , would race the ITT , the next day .
At that time , Chris was still under the shadow of Jean Marie Leblanc , who had told me of his friendship with Andre Auberge , President of French Para Sport , but also , of his determination , not to honour Para Sport , by allowing them to participate , officially at " Le Tour ". Laurent was working with " Cofidis Cycling Team " at that time . I spoke with him as he warmed up and was aware of the time of departure and his expected arrival time for the 53+km , but it was unrealistic for me to transit to the " Arrivee " since i had already run through the course twice , but with the second run continually blighted with the Gendarmes attempting to call me to the side of the road . As it was , i tried to obtain the info from the Tourist Office , they were in total ignorance of the fact that a Para Athlete had made the run , let alone that he was escorted by a " Republican Garde Motor Cyclist "! Various visits elicitated no information and it was several months before i met up with Laurent and found he had bettered the time of more than 50% of the Official racers , even with the use of only one leg !
Six-time Paralympic Champion Jiri Jezek of the Czech Republic will be a special guest of the Tour, being the first rider to start the day's time trial. This is indeed an honour for an extremely talented Athlete , BUT , why is he alone being accorded this honour ?
My suggestions to Chris Prudhomme , over the years , always called for the Champions of ALL European Countries , be invited to participate , in fact , compete against each other . Imagine the Publicity for the " Le Tour" let alone the recognition , that Para Athletes are as capable as Olympic Athletes ? In order for ALL Countries to have their Para Athletes available , would require , ONLY the request that the Athletes confirm that they would meet their OWN Expenses for Travel and Accomodation . Providing Space and Motor Cycle Escort with National flag would have been a trivial matter to arrange . Does anyone expect that ANY of the Para Athletes , would have declined an invitation on those terms ?
As regular visitors to my blogs have seen , i am not slow in letting him know my views on many matters attached to the Organisation of " Le Tour " . In fact " J M " , also came to know my views on many subjects , possibly found some of them being irritatingly repeated . Water dripping on stone , eventually gets a result . Whilst i have had the good fortune to remain in touch with " C C " of the Giro , over the years of his retirement , i have not set eyes on JM since Chris took sole charge of " Le Tour . I am sure he visits the TDF , but like Francois Hollande , i have missed making a connection to date .
Too late for this year , but i hope that Chris will be impressed with Jiri's efforts and if not on etappe 17 , then certainly , during the following " Le Tour " , will start the New Century , by inviting ALL National Para Cycle Champions to participate .