Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tour de France Coverage on Versus Network in the US

One of the great things that came out of the Lance Armstrong Era is that the Versus Network (used to be OLN) has decided that live coverage of Tour might be a good thing to have (I get Versus with my basic cable system. Cycling is about the only thing I watch). We get the live feed in the morning and then several reruns during the day. This is a great improvement since I was young when the only real coverage of the Tour in the US was in Outside Magazine and then maybe a hour show on ESPN at the end of the race.

I usually like to catch the live feed in the morning when I can and then catch some of the reruns during the day. I have noticed some changes as the day progresses. Bob Roll and the other American announcers go back and overdub some of the coverage.

I watched the big crash in stage 2 several times and it never got better. When I was watching it live I could see the crash being setup before it happened. It was pretty brutal. I was really looking forward to watch the sprint at the end. It was still a good finish. I am not sure if Quickstep's Tom Boonen really gave a gift to his teammate Gert Steegmans but if that is the story they want to stick with so be it.

I just watched the finish for stage 3. What a long race that was. I had to make a trip to Newark Airport and I expected the race to be over by the time I got back. I was completely surprised to see that the race was still on. Good thing for me since the finish was pretty spectacular. Fabian Cancellara of Team CSC defended his Yellow Jersey. This is the kind of racing I like to watch. I am still looking for Robbie McEwen to get the Green Jersey.

The sprint stages are now my favorites. This is a change since it used to be the mountain stages. I was reading last week that many of the American Media Outlets cover the early stages remotely and then fly over for the mountain stages. I have now watched enough Tours that I think this is a mistake.

I have to admit that I do not understand the goal of some of the breakaways. Do the riders involved in the breakaways really think they have a chance. I know that there is not a lot of independent thinking on these teams so the riders would not breakaway unless the team manager told them to. I guess it is a calculated risk to pick up some points and maybe get a stage win if the Peleton miscalculates the chase.

One thing that appears to be different about this years coverage is the addition of Specialized advertisements to compete with the Cervelo advertisements that seem to have dominated previous coverage. Yesterday I saw a Paulo Bettini ad and today I saw a Tom Boonen ad. Both ride for Quickstep although Mr. Bettini is not riding this years Tour.

While ESPN has downplayed the Tour this year (the link to the coverage page is not on the home page this year. You have to go to the Olympic Sports Page and click on Cycling). Jim Caple has a great column about why American's should watch the Tour this year. Worth reading.


brettok said...

The seemingly doomed breakaways serve the purpose of getting 5 hours of advertising for the team sponsors, and that slim chance of a stage win. plus as we saw yesterday, a rider like Auge can pick up some points for a KOM jersey and get to wear that for a day or two. i hope your cocverage has some half knowledgable presenters, on SKY here there is a moron who for the first four days been repeatedly calling Cancellara "Cancerella"....there must've been complaints, because toaday he finally got it right.

Flametop59 said...

The Versus guys are pretty good. Bob Roll is one of the color guys and he rode for both Andy Hempsten and Greg Lemond. Outside Magazine once called him a Super Domestic. I think one of the play by play guys does soccer and one of the other guys does the post game show after the Yankees games. I am not a big fan of Robbie Ventura though.

Anonymous said...

Why do the French, Flemish, Italians, Serbs get a live feed of the Tour and we don't? Versus cut the live feed after stage 3 and threatened legal action if the link is posted.

For those of us who have to work, watching the live feed on the internet is perfect.

Can't believe everyone else gets a live feed, but I have to wait till after work to watch it on my Tivo.

Flametop59 said...

I have not tried to watch it on the Internet yet. I did not know that Versus cut the internet feed. I think they want you to spend money for the OnDemand Broadcasts.

I have the race on right now but I am busy with work so it is hard to pay attention. Also, I just checked my bike and I have a flat. The third event of Friday 13. I am afraid to go riding.