In 1986 my wife and I travelled O/S to Europe and I sat in my brother's flat in Holloway, London, and watched as Greg Norman won his first British Open. Of course I thought he would win a few more majors than he did but I remained big fan of the way he played the game and the fact that he failed gloriously a few times just made him more likeable to me. I don't judge his private life - couldn't care less - because he always played fair and square on the course and showed his emotions and gave credit to the guys who beat him.
As it happens I don't play much golf these days and our Aussie road cyclists have become my new sporting favorites. I'm sure they all have their good days and bad days, public and private, but they play the game fair and square and a great ambassadors for the sport in Australia and reflect well on all of us through their sporting efforts and achievements and the way they go about it.
I'm clearly Cadel's lucky charm, with the Aussie winning the Tour de France this year after my wise words of encouragement at the start of the stage from Aigourande ... :)
I've met Phil Anderson, a very down to earth and friendly guy, and a TdF pioneer in the 80s. I've watched the likes of Henk Vogels, Stewie O'Grady, Robbie McEwen, Mick Rogers (another favourite) etc from a distance over the years and always thought about making a trip to the tour itself.
I took up cycling seriously (well, regularly ...) last year and decided to give it a go. I've met some other great people through cycling as well and was lucky enough to do a Topbike Tour with Dave Olle, Emma Colson and Kahn Franke and 9 others this year. As luck would have it, Emma's contacts got us into the start of a stage and I got up close with two of my current heroes, Mark Renshaw (below), without whom Cav would never win anything.... ha ha...and Cadel Evans (above) who today fulfilled his talent by taking the yellow jersey heading into the final stage to Paris tomorrow..
They have both ridden brilliantly in this years Tour (as have Goss, Gerrans and others...) and I'm just glad I was here.
EDIT: I now know that the guy talking to Mark Renshaw is in fact Alan Peiper, former Australian road cyclist, who competed in five Tours De France, with the last being the 1992 Tour. He is now a directeur sportif with Team Columbia.