With apologies to Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer, today is all about location. Two of the most famous events in Briitish sport get underway, and at another which has global appeal, a British man can move to the cusp of victory at an iconic venue. A fantasy day would take you to all three.
I’ll be at Cheltenham College watching Gloucestershire against Worcestershire. Hardly ugly, with Cleeve Hill in the distance and the two College chapels offering a backdrop of distinction to a cricket Festival that started in 1872, but on this trip of sporting dreams, Lord’s would have to be the first port of call.
I’ve seen one day of an Ashes Test there before, in 1993 when Michael Slater scored a century, but after the cut and thrust at Trent Bridge, few matches have been more eagerly anticipated. Australia rarely lose at Lord’s, but Darren Lehmann will have to rid his players of the emotional baggage of Sunday’s finish. You would expect Alistair Cook to bat if he wins the toss, and it may be Steven Finn’s knowledge of bowling there might just keep him in team. The first session will set the tone, but that’s all I would have time for before crossing the Channel.
The work of David Brailsford over the past decade has made cycling a sport at which Britain excells.
Given our prowess and rowing and equestrian sports, the joke is we do well at events which involve sitting down – not that there is much sitting down on this year’s 18th stage of the Tour de France.
Alongside Mont Ventoux, the climb to Alpe d’Huez is a symbol of the Tour. I have skiied at the resort, and gone up the 21 hairpin bends to the summit in a coach. The thought of looking down on this unique route, with an estimated 1 million people crawling all over it for a view of the riders makes it one of sport’s greatest tests of endurance. It’s also the 100th Tour this year, so just for good measure they’re doing the climb not once but twice, with a high speed descent of the Col de Sarenne in between. Scary stuff.
Britain’s Chris Froome won Wednesday’s time trial by 9 seconds, which means his lead in the overall classification ahead of Albero Contador is 4 minutes and 34 seconds. With work from his Team Sky colleagues, Froome can surely emulate Sir Bradley Wiggins and become only the second British
rider to win the Tour at the weekend in Paris.
Late afternoon in Alpe d’Huez has a lot to commend it, but this fantasy day must end on the East Lothian coast, an hour to the north of Berwick upon Tweed to take in the first day of the Open Championship at Muirfield.
With 156 players the last group doesn’t go out until after 4 o’clock, and play will still be in progress five hours later, so plenty of time to see the likes of Francesco Molinari, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and the colourful American Rickie Fowler, all of whom are among the later groups.
Tiger Woods is also towards the rear of the field on the first day, a position he may not occupy on the leader board come Sunday. Prime time television will appreciate that more than the players do the hard fairways and fast greens, although accuracy should be rewarded with some low scores.
Imagine 24 hours hopping between these three wonderful locations. Each has tradition and a sense of aura about it. If the localised thunderstorms miss Alpe d’Huez, each of them promises to be hot and
sunny. All in all, a day to dream about. A fantasy sporting day if ever there was one.
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