The GP Cycliste La Marseillaise, a/k/a GP Ouverture La Marseillaise, takes its traditional spot tomorrow as the opener of professional road racing in Europe. Sure, it's not exactly Milano-Torino or Paris-Bruxelles, doesn't have much history, and is largely the domain of sprinters... but after a month of races in other hemispheres, southern France has to be looking pretty inviting. Almost no English information exists on the web about this race, or so it seems, but what more do you need than the CyclingFever Startlist? The highlights: Hushovd, VDB (!), Steels, Voeckler, DiGregorio, Moreau, and our Boys in Argyle.
Still, every year I can't help but take the time to point out that "La Marseillaise" is the best national anthem in the biz. The outmoded patriotism, the building crescendo, the unabashedly graphic lyrics:
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us, tyranny
Has raised its bloodied banner
Do you hear in the fields
The howling of these fearsome soldiers?
They are coming into your midst
To devour your sons, your wives!
To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions!
Let us march, let us march!
May impure blood
Soak our fields' furrows!
Let's face it, if you were trying to cast off a millennium or so of corrupt monarchic rule, you wouldn't mince words either. As for its place in the modern era, one can't help but imagine Christian Prudhomme leading the ASO charges in verse before a critical meeting with the UCI... with emphasis on soaking the fields with "impure blood."
There are some seriously crap anthems out there, like Italy's "Song of the Italians" and Germany's "Song of the Germans." Even the "Star Spangled Banner" seems a bit, well, detached compared to La Marseillaise, with it's pitchfork-and-torch call to arms. Take-home point: don't fuck with the French revolutionaries. Enjoy the race.
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