Just when it appeared that I was going to win atop Alpe d’Huez, Alberto Contador accelerated past me with 50 metres remaining. As defeats go, this was crushing.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out the above scenario did not happen in real life, but nor was this a dream.
In fact, my near-victory came one hour into playing the 2013 Tour de France Xbox game, made by Cyanide Studios and Focus, the same companies behind the popular Pro Cycling Manager PC series.
That I had already spent 60 minutes playing and exploring what was on offer here says a lot: yes, you may only be able to race the Tour on the Xbox and Playstation 3 game, but there’s plenty to keep you occupied before and after the actual race begins in Corsica on June 29.
I started off playing as Mark Cavendish, carefully picking a strong OmegaPharma-Quick Step squad in an attempt to sprint to victory in the opening stage.
Despite a concerted chase by my team-mates (there are a number of tactical options available in the game), the result was not good.
I finished 12th, after the day-long breakaway resisted the on-rushing bunch.
I switched to Team Sky for the mountain stages, and in what is a suspiciously lifelike parallel, I got dropped after crashing on a descent while riding as Bradley Wiggins.
Having taken control of Chris Froome, and consumed two gels on the approach to L’Alpe (such is the attention to detail, you get a choice of energy products before the stage), I was ready to fight it out with the other climbers on the iconic climb.
The graphics are very impressive – you know you’re playing a game, but jersey design is accurate and the scenery looks extremely sharp – you quickly lose count of how many hairpins you’ve been round.
You watch as your team-mates get dropped after pulling for you at the front of the bunch and – just like in racing itself – positioning is all important.
With a kilometre remaining, and the heartbeat sound effects creating a tense atmosphere, it was time to attack. Froome’s virtual style was not quite as ugly as in real life, but his kick was realistic. Yet just as I turned onto the final straight, I could see Contador on my wheel. I had gone too hard, too soon (players control the speed, length and gear of the attack), and the Spaniard came past.
Bradley Wiggins last year said kids from Kilburn aren’t supposed to win the Tour de France, and on this performance, clearly that applies to people from Kent, too.
* The Tour de France 2013 Playstation 3 and Xbox game is released on June 21.
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This article was first published in the June 20 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!