Murali and Tourmalet

Sri Lankan test cricketeer Muttiah Muralitharan has retired. He played in his final test match today and fitting took the very final Indian wicket to bring his personal tally to 800 wickets in 133 tests. 800 wickets!! Now that's something I judge as worthy of a second, totally superfluous exclamation mark. That mark will take some beating. I feel privileged to have seen him bowl on a number of occasions. I might not be Sri Lankan, and a number of the wickets he took in his career may have belonged ot English cricketeers but the man was something special.

I don't think I've ever mentioned cycling in my blog. Anyone who knows me would probably think there is a really good reason for it - let's face facts, I'm not known for my fanatical devotion to keeping fit. But I like watching the big Tours - Italy, Spain and of course the Tour de France.

For all that it is effective a bunch of guys riding bicycles along deserted roads, which on the face of it does sound a little dull, I find the race fascinating. Okay part of this might be my love of France and Italy (although I have no great love for Spain, nothing against it just never appealed) but I like watching these races.

And today's tour stage was incredible. Again on the face of it you might say it was dull as nothing really changed. Andy Schleck didn't manage to rode away from Alberto Contador and they rode in together resulting in an unchanged 1-2 in the race. But they were riding up the Col du Tourmalet. They rode up a mountain for 20 kilometres (at the end of five hours of racing) at a gradient of about 9% for large parts. Those guys are amazingly fit.

You can't help but be impressed by them.


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