So I have been thinking about this a lot recently, especially having just partaken in 12.5 days of one of the world’s biggest races… TV coverage of cycling, live-feeds, everything involving WATCHING a bike race from afar… It is all kind of, well, bland. Sure some races are thoroughly captivating, and I am the first one to sit down for hours and watch a Tour de France stage.
I’m just saying. I usually fall asleep with about 60km to go and wake up with 20km to go.
I absolutely love this sport, don’t get me wrong. I just feel that there is so much going on that no one knows about.
IN a bike race, I am lucky if I am bored. There is a constant fight to get to the front, to group together with teammates. There is action 100% of the time, but on TV you don’t see any of that. You have to be IN the race to really know what it is we are doing, and what makes bike racing so exciting.
Take the start for example. Especially in the latter stages of a grand tour, everyone who is capable of going in a breakaway WILL try to go in a breakaway because those late race breakaways usually end up staying to the finish–key word: CAPABLE. The most attacking that happens in a race happens at the beginning. The hardest hour of a bike race is usually the first hour, or the last hour. Why don’t we show that on TV? Let me tell you, it would be pretty exciting. When you have riders and teams with strict orders to get into a breakaway and they miss it? Well then they have to chase it down. If they manage to chase it down, the chaos starts again. No matter what the road surface is like, if the profile is flat, hilly or mountainous, there will be a solid chunk fo time where riders are attacking left and right to try and get away. Even when I watch a race on TV and see a breakaway of 20 guys I forget how difficult it must have been just for them to get INTO that break. We talk about breakaways like they are these easy-to-enter, optional things–as if some riders wake up in the morning and say ‘I think I am going to go in the break today.’
It takes serious timing skills, some luck, and a big engine to get into a breakaway.
I think one thing that would be cool is if we had on-bike cameras like MotoGP, as well as microphones on some riders. How else could the public be able to appreciate the risks we take every day…like on descents? From the helicopter or the moto it is pretty hard to tell. How cool would it have been to show the 4-up Liquigas attack on the DESCENT in stage 6 that Peter Sagan won from THEIR perspective. Or from the perspective of the riders behind them?? What about sprint stages? What if you could be onboard Mark Cavendish’s bike as he weaved through the pack with his HTC train en route to winning on the Champs-Elysees in the Tour de France?
What if you could hear a team director giving orders, and watch that team respond to those orders directly in front of you on your TV? If you could hear a team leader yelling orders in desperate times–if you could hear the deafening roar of fans on, say, the Mur de Huy in Fleche Wallone–if you could hear riders yelling at each other, SEE riders bumping and pushing each other, jockeying for position–it happens ALL DAY!
Yeah…some ideas. This sport has so much potential and already an amazing fan base for its content on TV. I was fortunate as a kid to go to the Tour with my family and follow for a couple days–which ended up being one of the reasons I got into this sport. That energy that surrounds a bike race is incredible. If only we could harness it and make it more publicly available!!!
Meh, some musings. Back to Italy today…
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