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Tour de France

The 98th Tour de France came to a close this past weekend as the competition had reached fever pitch.  Despite the much hyped matchup between Alberto Contador, winner of the past two TdF’s, and Andy Schleck, runner-up in past years of the Tour, Frenchman Thomas Voeckler looked to be the man to beat for the Yellow Jersey at the start of stage 19.

This year’s Tour was markedly turbulent early on.  The first 9 stages saw a number of alarming crashes resulting in some very serious injuries.  However, calamity had steadily dissipated as the competition rose.

The leader board in this year’s event featured several surprise contenders for the GC competition for the overall best time, adding even more excitement to cycling’s most celebrated tour.  Thomas Voeckler remained in contention for the Yellow Jersey much longer than most had expected.  Fans also saw a second place appearance by Andy’s brother, Frank Schleck.  Frank gave up his second place spot to his brother, but he remained close to the top, as he finished in third, two and a half minutes behind the Australian leader, Cadel Evans.

By the end of stage 19 on Friday, both Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans of Australia managed to overtake Voeckler, with Evans in first and Schleck following in second.  Alberto Contador made several surprise moves uphill over the course of the Tour, but managed to finish no higher than fifth place in the competition for the Yellow Jersey.

With no shortage of twists and turns, this year’s Tour de France certainly delivered the intense competition that the race is known for.  Congratulations to Cadel Evans who took the GC competition, Samuel Sanchez who won King of the Mountains, Mark Cavendish who took the Sprinter’s Green Jersey, Pierre Rolland who was this year’s best young rider, and Team Garmin-Cervelo who won the team competition.

Le Quatorze Juillet

On this day, July 14, 1789, revolutionaries stormed the Bastille prison-fortress in a symbolic rejection of the French monarchy’s authoritarian rule. Though only housing seven inmates at the time, the long-time penitentiary for political prisoners stood in the center of Paris as a constant reminder of the tyranny of the French government. The immediate result of the attack was nearly one hundred deaths, yet in a far more significant corollary, the siege ultimately prompted the French Revolution, and marked the end of the French Monarchy.

Today, the people of France remember Bastille Day, or La Fête Nationale, as the birth of the French First Republic. In Paris, the day begins with Europe’s longest running and largest military parade filing from l’Arc de Triomphe along the Champs-Élysées. The French President hosts an exorbitant garden party, and the festivities culminate with fireworks across the Seine.

Different regions in France recognize Le Quatorze Juillet in various ways. Street parties, music and dancing, and even a two-day-long celebration in Marseilles all commemorate the French national holiday as the country takes time to celebrate the rise of their esteemed Republic. Bonne fête du 14 juillet!

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