Cycling is probably the only sport that gets some pretty crappy coverage if you live on this side of the Atlantic...RAI from Italy knows how to do this stuff. A full pre stage show, follow by at least three hours of live coverage, followed by a post stage show, followed by another post stage show. The frenchies have it dialed too, but heck, they have to, having the biggest bike race of the year. On this side of the pond, things are a bit different. I sometimes think that the networks hire monkeys to handle the cycling side instead of someone with some sort of idea of what to do. Watching the re-run of Ironman on Saturday is like reading every issue of Bicycling magainze. The same crap. You have your touchy stories about some athletes and their difficulties to get to Kona. Or the guy who has tried to win but couldn't and now he's at the front and could possibly win. Anyhow, you get the picture. And this type of television pattern is what Versus thinks they should focus their coverage of the Tour of California. Of course having Phil, Paul and the guy who can't stop waving his arms when he talks (Bob Roll) is a must, but that's for pure sentimental values at this point. The guys need to spice it up a bit. Phil commented last night that "Cancellara is an expert in this sort of long effort" referring to the prologue at Standford U., which by the way was about 3.2 kms long (it took him 3:51 to ride it, so long in comparison to what Phil?). And guys please, stop trying to figure out who's making the break using the helicopter angle. 99% of the time you can't get it right even if the shot is the one from the motorcycle right next to the rider, so the chooper shot is a no-no for you. On Sunday's show, the first hour, you didn't see a single bike. It was all this crap about Rock and Racing, Astana not going to the tour, and all the rest, "who gives a f#$%" stuff that cycling fans are not interested in. Show us the real race for Pete's sake and stop with the promoting of hockey. The bull riding, OK, but enough with hockey promos and the such. Concentrate on the race and don't break away from the coverage when an attack happens to show "lets take a look at what happened yesterday", you already did that at the top of the show, or the cameras not staying with the lead group as the final sprint is about to happen. Personally, I don't care about the "Health Net Maxxis moment of the stage" and the view from the "Rock Racing Cam" needs to be improved. Ohh and one more about the prologue, it was only 3.2kms long, and they didn't have reference times or a clock for that matter. You saw the only time check at the last 500m. WTF is that??...Versus is trying to teach the noncycling viewer about the sport, forgetting about the large number of people who watch their so call racing coverage, the weekend warrior who knows what an echelon is. Hire some competent producer who at least owns a bike for a change and see if you can improve on the coverage. If I may, here's my humble idea of what the hour of race coverage should look like.
00-05-Open, show the course and talk about what's ahead.
06-10-what happened yesterday
10-13-quotes from riders about yesterday and what's going to happen today
13-15 first commercial break
15-30-race coverage...nothing else
30-32 second commercial break
32-45 more race...here depending on the action, add an interview or talk to a director in a team car.
45-47- third commercial break
47-55 finish the stage coverage
55-57 last break
57-00 post race comments and interview of the winner...
About 36 minutes of RACE!!! coverage. Versus, give it a shot and see.