The Tour de France 2021: Haiku Recap

Writing reports about Grand Tour stages is tricky; writing short ones is nigh on impossible. Trying to recall the endless brief iterations of breakaways; recounting the dynamics of a group attacking up a long climb; remembering to mention the quirks and random occurrences that make every day different in a three week race; it all adds up. Is it any wonder that race reports can be long-winded, and that those that are not seem to miss a certain something, failing to recreate an atmosphere that was as unique to that day as the weather, the region and the shifting composition of the various groups of riders on the road.

I wanted to commemorate each stage of the Tour de France without committing myself to swathes of writing every day, and figured what better way to constrain myself, that through the use of poetry. I considered employing a different poetic form to review each stage, but just as quickly dismissed the idea as I didn’t fancy writing a Petrarchan sonnet about a boring flat stage in week 3, so instead decided on the smallest unit of poetry available: the haiku.

For an over-writer, limiting myself to a poetic form consisting of just 17 syllables in order to express the most memorable moments from each stage would turn out to be almost as monumental a task as just covering the racing in long form. I stuck to the challenge though, and here is what I ended up with, three weeks later. If ever you wonder what the 2021 Tour de France was like, but you can’t face reading pages of reviews, perhaps you can bookmark the page for a much more brief reminder…

Stage 1

Lower your weapons

The battle is on the road

Ill-fated signs wound

Stage 2

Foregone conclusion

Yellow jersey legacy

Genetics prevail

Stage 3

Amidst the wreckage

Alpecin-Fenix focus;

Take care of business

Stage 4

A legend prevails

 And blessed relief, riders

Find safe passage home

Stage 5

Slovenians win;

One overcoming the pain

The other, the clock

Stage 6

In the third decade

Cav returned to Chateauroux;

A second coming

Stage 7

Cyclocross rivals

Instigate chaos; Slovenes

Suffer and triumph

Stage 8

The boy king strikes out,

Defends his crown with strokes of

Stunning majesty

Stage 9

An Aussie out front

Grim Alpine rain inflicted

Timecut tragedies

Stage 10

If sprint lead-outs were

Art, this was a masterpiece;

Strokes of pure genius

Stage 11

Master of all trades

Climbs solo to victory

Writes his own story

Stage 12

The peloton more

Restful than the wind; one Nils

To the breakaway

Stage 13

History repeats

Speed against adversity

Manx equals Merckx

Stage 14

French hopes rise over

Pyrenean foothills; Dutch

Solo trek conquers

Stage 15

American dreams

Are made real at altitude

A high point for Kuss

Stage 16

Lonely Austrian

Loves riding his bike in the

Rain. Seeks finish line.

Stage 17

Two young assassins

Thwart Bastille breakaway hopes;

Call Carapaz’ bluff

Stage 18

Déjà vu with

Added Mas; stalemate split with

Tadej paramount

Stage 19

New patron rising

Slovenian dominance 

Silence the doubters

Stage 20

Three: Asgreen aspires.

Two: Danes deliver second

Spot: Wout van Aert, won

Stage 21

Victory on Ventoux

Champs champion, equal to

Merckx, Hinault – van Aert

*

Slovenian prince

In spots, white, yellow; hail the

Once and future king

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