POUNDING away on my treadmill in a Bavarian hotel, I feel quite pleased with myself for counteracting all those bratwursts – until I happen to look up at the television set in front of me.

There I can see guys with muscles on muscles slogging up hills, then pedalling furiously through the streets of unheard of French villages, roared on by throngs of admirers.

This is the Tour de France cycle race, and it makes me feel totally inadequate.

I’ll bet they don’t stuff themselves with German sausages.

Okay sadly some of them do inhale other substances that should be equally prohibitive, but I still goggle at their achievements in what must be the most gruelling sports event of them all.

You can only marvel at these specimens of athleticism, and yet I’ll wager few people in England could name a single competitor.

It’s a quirk of life that different nations embrace vastly contrasting sports (cricket in the Caribbean, curling in Scotland, rugby in the South Sea islands, and cycling in Belgium and Holland).

All require immense skill, and I’ve often tried in my mind to compare the demands placed on the bodies of the greatest exponents.

What struck me most about Formula One racing drivers was piercing eyes, razor sharp reflexes vital to their very survival in a high speed chase.

Jockeys virtually starve themselves to ensure they are as light as a feather balanced on the saddle of a galloping mare, and swimmers rise before skylarks to plunge into deserted pools in pursuit of their gold medal aspirations.

They all deserve admiration, but none more so than these superhuman cyclists, who, day after day suffer blood, sweat and tears – and all for a yellow jersey.

Thank goodness my 45 minutes of hell is over – I’m off for a frankfurter.

THE coach of Korea DPR (don’t call them North Korea whatever you do) came up with a novel excuse for his team’s defeat by USA.

“My girls were all struck by lightning” he said. Now nobody else spotted this phenomenon, so perhaps something was lost in translation.

It astonishes me that a group of 20-year-old female footballers are even allowed out of the world’s most secretive country.

They giggled at a fax machine, and stared in wonderment at peanuts and breadsticks, not the sort of foodstuff you get in Pyongyang.

Apparently only three hairstyles are allowed in The Democratic People’s Republic, short, shorter and shorter-still.

Quite what they made of the blonde tresses of their Swedish opponents, I dread to think.

MOST bizarrely I watched the Haye-Klitschko fight, or non-event if you please, in the company of some of the England women’s football team.

Naturally they were backing our man, and it was quite moving when, led by the effervescent Everton midfielder Jill Scott, they stood in the hotel bar and sung the National Anthem when Haye climbed into the ring.

Striker Eniola Aluke then caused great mirth at the end of the first round, by imitating the girls who parade the ring holding aloft a card with the round number on it.

It was good to see the girls letting their hair down, and they were certainly more entertaining than the pugilists.

Scott scored a spectacular headed goal in the 2-1 win over New Zealand, a strike that Andy Booth would have been proud of, so let’s hope she was able to repeat the feat in last night’s encounter with Japan!