The Tour de France

June 29th, 2013

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I love the Tour de France.

It’s not an easy thing for the casual observer to get into; on the surface it’s just a bunch of peculiarly-dressed men riding bikes round some pretty countryside. But there’s a load of exciting stuff awaiting anyone who puts in the effort to understand it. Then it becomes a bunch of peculiarly-dressed men riding bikes round some pretty countryside with tactics and rivalries and super-human feats and crashes and, most exciting of all, drug scandals.

The key to being able to understand all of it is the TV coverage. Fortunately in the UK the Tour is perfectly covered by ITV4. Nowadays they do live coverage as well but their one hour highlights evening show is all you really need. You’d think that living in France and having French TV coverage would be far better but surprisingly it’s not; the French coverage is, in comparison, terrible.

The live coverage looks the same as every other live coverage but the commentary is, on the whole, boring and often irrelevant to what’s going on; if something happens you cannot rely on the commentators to explain it or even mention it.

And the French highlights show? There isn’t one. Immediately after the stage has ended an ‘after stage’ show begins during which they have interviews and show the podiums and chat about bits and bobs, little of which makes any sense if you’re not already fully versed in the ways of the Tour. By around 6:30pm this is finished and that’s it. How you’re meant to keep up with the Tour if you work normal working hours I do not know.

So my recommendation for anyone living in France (or anywhere else for that matter) who would like to follow the Tour is watch the ITV4 highlight show, the true home of the Tour on TV.


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