In part three of our mini series, My First Tour, Daniel Friebe recalls the first edition of the Tour de France he watched nightly on television and the first he covered as a journalist.
The 1996 Tour marked the end of the Miguel Indurain era and created a power vacuum at the heart of the race which was filled that year by the unlikely figure of Bjarne Riis. We recall a Tour that was undoubtedly shaped by EPO (Riis later confessed to doping) and which perhaps contributed to the UCI’s decision to introduce a 50 per cent ceiling for red blood cells in the absence of a test to detect the substance.
That Tour was best known for the abrupt way the curtain fell on Indurain’s five-year reign. He was aiming for a record sixth Tour title when he cracked spectacularly on the climb to Les Arcs and within a couple of months he called time on his career – albeit taking a gold medal at the Olympics in the meantime.
In 2001, when still younger than the youngest rider in the race, Daniel covered the Tour as a journalist for the first time. It was a year when it became clear Armstrong was going to dictate the race for years to come and a steep learning curve for young Daniel…