Most reviews of Kraftwerk’s new album (eg. Dominique Leone’s fair-minded and mostly on-point Pitchfork write-up seem to me to have neglected something rather crucial. The clue is in the title – this is not a techno or pop record in the standard sense, it’s something rather more formal, a soundtrack. A soundtrack to an event that is now passed, but a soundtrack nonetheless.

So one way to judge it is – how good a soundtrack is it? Being as the Tour De France is over, we have to rely on our memories of the race, which merge into our impressions of bicycle racing in general, which further blur into our own experience of bicycle riding. The basic rhythmic unit of the album – a rapid click-track – sounds like the rapid spin of a free, well-oiled wheel. The small melodic ripples put me in mind of tree-lined French roads, the dapple of sunlight, slowly changing views. As an album about cycling, then, it works very well, whatever its strengths as anything else.

The main thing it doesn’t capture is the effort involved, which is a big part of the Tour and indeed of riding a bike in general beyond paper-round level. (For me anyway – obviously Ralf Hutter is a lot fitter than I am). For that you have to go back to the original ‘Tour De France’, included on the new CD in mildly remixed form. The rhythm bed of the original is a regular, heavy grunting, which merges into the (wonderfully pretty) tune – as a love song to physicality and exercise it’s unbeatable. It’s also a love song to and between the Tour’s riders – camarades et amitie, it ends – and this too is missing from the extended album, which prefers to explore the Tour from a sports-science point of view. This may well reflect a wider shift from romance to pragmatism in sports thinking, but more than anything it’s what leaves me ambivalent about the new record – an expansion of Kraftwerk’s most humane song that misses somehow what made it special.