Filing a stone’s throw away from the world’s most famous street, Anthony Tan describes what has been for him, three of the most unforgettable weeks of his life.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

If one did not shed a tear as Aussie sweetheart, Tina Arena, belted out
the Australian national anthem on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and you
happened to be there today, there must be something wrong with you.

Cadel did. I did. Tomo did. And most likely back home, all of Australia did.

The
final 95 kilometres in this unforgettable 3,430 kilometre journey were,
as they always have been since 1975 (save for the 1989 edition, which
of course was a time trial, in a race won by American Greg LeMond), a
procession.

Mark Cavendish was always going to win on the world's most famous street, finally taking his first maillot vert for keeps. And Cadel Evans was always going to be crowned champion of the 2011 Tour de France, finally taking his first maillot jaune for keeps.

Still, the aura of anticipation awaiting Australia's first Tour champion was immense.

For
the entire three-hour train journey from Grenoble to Paris this
morning, I had a lump in my throat. It was not because I thought Cadel
would crash, or he would somehow impossibly lose 1 minute and 34
seconds, the time he beat the now three-time runner-up, Andy Schleck,
by.

It was because the occasion was so momentous, almost beyond
belief. For it was not just the apotheosis of Evans' career, but mine,
too.

Having slogged away for more than a decade, plying my trade,
reporting on these often larger-than-life figures at the top of their
game, and doing my best to keep them and their stakeholders honest, it
was time for me to take a step back, look at where I've come from, and
what I've achieved.

Problem was, I took this moment of introspection waiting for my turn with SBS
Tour de France host Mike Tomalaris. Straight after Sunday's
twenty-first and final stage to Paris, with the ceremonies going on in
full cry, no more than a hundred metres away from me – and just before
going live on national television around Australia!

I was overwhelmed with what Cadel, Tomo, the SBS
crew and I had realised, which caused me to almost lose it on camera;
all of a sudden, the lump in my throat morphed into a basketball-size
proportions and choked me right up.

SBS producer at the
Tour, Stuart Randall, jokingly said I was forgiven, given the gravity of
the situation. Maybe it made me appear a little more human than the
hard-nosed journalist many describe or view me as, I don't know; maybe
it didn't.

* * *

Honestly, what I have tried to do
since the start of my career is provide balanced, insightful, honest,
and interesting, reportage.

And at the Tour, for SBS at least, I also wanted to open a window into a world you do not often see.

Whether
it was my blogs (which are essentially opinion pieces, and where
perspective takes precedence over balance, unlike news reporting); or my
press room podcasts with journalists of great repute such as Paul
Kimmage, author of the seminal cycling book Rough Ride; or my
stints on television, dissecting the race from an analyst's point of
view, it was all designed to augment what you saw on the box and heard
from the familiar, mellifluous voices of Phil and Paul.

I really
believed I achieved that, and I sincerely hope you enjoyed what I wrote
or what I said, and maybe had a laugh or two also, because without
humour, life is dull as a doorknob. Unless you're into doorknobs, that
is.

I also hope what I wrote or said challenged you to think, and
if you agreed or disagreed – both of which I am completely comfortable
with – that you posted a comment on the Cycling Central website or directly to me via Twitter.

Though I'm not yet so comfortable to pass on my home address or mobile phone number to all of you.

Joking… I think!

This
year, the world's largest annual sporting spectacle was broadcast in
more than 180 countries. If a cycling fan wanted to watch all the images
that were transmitted this year, Christian Prudhomme, the race
organiser since 1995, having succeeded Jean-Marie Leblanc, said it would
take six months of non-stop viewing to do so.

"The millions of
people who watch it on their televisions are the people we must think
about above all. "The race needs to be attractive to them," Prudhomme
said.

I took note of his message, delivered in the official Tour
guide and which I read on the flight over here some 26 days ago. I vowed
to myself I would do my very best to make the race not just attractive,
but meaningful also, and when the occasion called for it, funny, too.

However, only you, the readers and viewers, can be the judge of that.

Thanks for keeping me and the SBS crew company for the past month, and see you soon on Cycling Central, online or on-air.

Till then, au revoir et à bientôt!

Follow Anthony on Twitter: @anthony_tan