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Logical Start to Tour de France, in Holland

Paris:- Saturday, 29. June 1996:- The 83rd and current Tour de France 21-day bicycle 3900 km odyssey started about 17:00 today at 's Hertogenbosch in Holland. There are 22 teams with nine members each, and hopefully all of them will arrive safe and sound for the final sprint on the Champs-Elysées on Sunday, 21. July.

This is not the first time the 'Tour' has started outside of France; the first time was in 1954, and then it was Holland too. According to my sports experts at Le Parisien, the riders to watch are Miguel Indurain, who is trying for his sixth victory and the Frenchman, Laurent Jalabert, who currently holds the world's number one rating.

Although I've cited these two, the Tour de France competition is a team sport and the number of days involved are many and the distance to be travelled long, so certain winners can not be guaranteed.

Notice, if you will, how neatly television coverage fits the Tour de France between the Euro '96 football matches and the beginning of the Olympics in Atlanta, with only a few days overlap at either end. The will make for a non-stop sports' summer.

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Euro '96 Football

On Thursday, morning opinion in the Bar-Tabac surprised me - proving once again that learning is a lifelong process. I went in, expecting the lament of 'No Joy in Mudville.' But my weed retailer said, about the sudden-death French - Czech semi-final shootout to decide the winner - anybody could have won, just like flipping a coin.

The skill required is considered to be minimal as the shooter is nearly in the goal and the goal is wide. The match was described as lackluster; and victory for the Czechs by one shootout goal... was not considered a shameful defeat of the French team.

I had not seen the companion semi-final match between Germany and England - and this, according to my cigarette pusher, had indeed been a match worth watching. That it too ended in a shoot-out victory for Germany was irrelevant - the match was hard fought one; appreciated as pure football entertainment.

Silly Europe Week

Britain's 14 continental partners have finally convinced the island nation to 'do the right thing' and I am therefore happy to announce that 'Silly Europe Week' is over, just before entering its fourth month.

Metropole first reported on this story in issue number six at the end of March and there have been several updates since then, just to show that our attention span is longer than seven days. Radio and television news announcers probably not only say 'Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy' and 'Creuzfeldt-Jakob Disease' in their sleep, but they can effortlessly spell them too.

There is apparently no truth to the rumor that Britain finally threw in the towel because Germany beat England at football on Wednesday evening: thereby reversing a loss suffered in 1966 at Wembley Stadium - and this added the necessary weight to the insistence of the 14 European Union members, that Britain should try a little harder to do its share in eradicating consumer doubt about eating beef of any sort.

Rollers for Fun and Transport Roller skates with the wheels in line instead of at the four corners have been around since 1990, but this year in France they are selling like... um, baguettes? 'vin ordinaire?' According to a deler, the real launch was during the transport strikes late last year; when bicycles were sold out, desperate commuters turned to skates.

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