How a yellow jersey is dividing Brazil into’red and blue’ regions
On Sunday, the Tour of Spain was over. The sun was shining. The crowds of tourists were coming out for photos and beers.
After all, the race was a grand celebration of the Spanish people and their love of cycling – of the sport that has been part of the fabric of Spain since the days of the Pyrenees hills, of the mountains of Pamplona.
Then the Tour of Spain started. The first rider was Miguel Indurain, who wore the yellow jersey, the winner’s prize.
He was followed by the French rider Cadel Sastre, who wore the red jersey. Then there was the Italian team leader, Marco Pantani, who was wearing the blue jersey.
Next came the Tour de France winner, Bernard Hinault. And then there was Armstrong, wearing the iconic yellow jersey.
It was the kind of scene you’d expect in a story book. It was a clash of good versus evil, of sport and politics, of brotherly love versus ruthless, violent competition.
In a nation that has prided itself on its cycling, the Tour of Spain represented a defining moment. It was, so far, a good omen for the sport.
But then Armstrong took the yellow jersey. He was cheered on from the roadside. He was the first to see the crowds. He stood in the middle of the road, a hero in his red and blue kit.
But his presence caused a problem. He was a good rider but his win was being seen as the result of a political deal. The race’s organizers were seen as a hand that was manipulating the win to suit their agenda.
On the back of the Tour, stories of what was taking place in the race started to emerge.
The yellow jersey had long been on the cards for Italian riders like Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali. If there was any doubt remaining, it was removed on Sunday.
Now, with Armstrong in the yellow, the race was a free for all.
The idea of yellow, of the yellow jersey, of the yellow vests is a symbol of the purity of sport, the purity of cycling. It is a sign that there is nothing to hide.