I discovered the tour in 2010, the year before Cadel Evans won the race and I was instantly intrigued by the beauty and the complexity of the tour. It took me a few tours to work out the rules and to begin to understand the tactics and team work.
I know there is controversy and drug taking in the world of cycling, but for me this is well and truly overshadowed by the many wonderful aspects of the sport. Tonight is a time trial - stage 18, and as I watch I thought I'd list all the things that I love about Le Tour!
* The names of the riders. There are so many wonderful names that I love to say as often as possible during Le Tour - Alberto Contador! Fabian Cancellara! Alejandro Valverde! Cyclists have long careers so I have been hearing some of these names for 7 years and I just love hearing them. A new favourite this year is Julian Alaphilippe!
* The teamwork. It took me a while to understand the way that teams work for their lead rider or for their sprinter or climber. The idea of a 'domestique' doing all the hard work and then dropping back exhausted for their leader to win is intriguing to me and something I've never seen in another sport. The strength and resilience of these athletes is awesome.
* The scenery of course! Words not necessary here ...
* The roundabouts and the descents - I love how the peleton split as they ride through a roundabout. It is just so satisfying to watch, and the descents down mountains in a long line at great speed are breathtaking.
* The commentary - there is something so relaxing about listening to the commentators who know the race so well and share so much knowledge about the riders, the latest news and the towns and areas they ride through. Phil Liggett is a legend - he's been commentating Le Tour for 43 years!
* The rules and the tactics. The complicated rules, the different competitions within the tour and the team tactics are fascinating. I'm sure I don't really understand it properly but I really enjoy trying to work it all out.
*The crowds of spectators. I would love to be on the summit of a climb along with all the crazy spectators one day, with my campervan nearby ready to take me to the next stage. The atmosphere looks amazing as the crowds urge the riders on, cheering each and every one as they whoosh past.
* The colours. The yellow, green, polka dot and white jersey. The flags, the team colours, and the patterns in the peleton.
* The drama! Crashes, attacks, sprints, the stage wins.
and finally ...
* The champagne. What other sporting event ends with the athletes drinking champagne and congratulating each other as they ride together? Perfect.