A couple questions and criticisms:
Does airing cycling have such a low ROI that you need to split it 50/50 with advertising or was that Versus' way of capitalizing on the fact people were finally watching their channel? If you added up all the ads during programming--that clean bottle, the endless Road ID spots, the Scott and Specialized spots--it was more like 70/30. I'm guessing that despite some profit made on the Tour, they had to do this just to air it. Their budget for covering the Tour had to have been larger than any other show they do. They sent a ton of peeps to France to cover the race and they have to pay the bills somehow.
There were, however, areas they could definitely improve on. The repeated "Tour de France" segments that aired every time they came back from a commercial got annoying. You know, the ones that had "most epic race on earth." Yes, I know it's the Tour de France and yes, I'd rather see the last 10k then 30 seconds of ads for something that's already airing.
I tweeted (@vscycling) once saying "show the race" to which the producer (@joelfelicio) replied "it was a rolling peloton, you didn't miss anything." That's the problem, I did miss something. I tune in because I want to see the race or as much of it as possible. As a cycling fan I like watching more than just the finish. That means even a "rolling peloton." When they did show the peloton it was only for a few seconds, then they cut to some awkward interview with Frankie and Lance. I realize watching cycling is only a half step above trainspotting, but please JUST SHOW THE RACE!!! Enough with the football-esque overproduction. The race is enough to keep anyone tunning in at 7 AM watching.
Despite all that, it was nice to have cycling on TV period. In addition, it was nice to have it on over and over and over. Even still, I ended up buying the Tour Tracker after about two stages of suffering through the TV coverage. It was the French video feed without any commercials and it was worth all $30. Hopefully they'll keep the stages up on-demand for a while.
--A friend was asking me what I thought of the 39 second deficit between Andy and Alberto. Here's what I think:
First, as I've mentioned before, Schleck lost 42 seconds in the prologue alone. Second, the time he did gain on Contador, aside from the 10 seconds he gained on his mini-attack on stage 8, came from sitting Cancellara's wheel in stage 3.
When it came to the high mountains, he didn't have what it took to shake Contador. On stage 12, however, when the road got steep Contador dropped Schleck like a bad habit.
Although the chain incident was unfortunate for Schleck, I think Contador was right to keep going. That being said, I wish it hadn't happened because it would have been AMAZING to see Contador in 2nd going into the Tourmalet. As it was, all Contador had to do was mark Schleck's wheel and it wasn't near as exciting as it could have been.
Despite all Andy's talk about how he'd attack, how strong he was, yada yada, he proved what he proved last year: he's still the second best GC man in cycling. (I do give him massive props for riding the TT of his life on Saturday.) Schleck's an incredible cyclist and maybe in a few years he'll win the Tour, but I can't see it happening as long as Contador is on form.
--Hats off to Horner (@hornerakg) and Hesjedal for great finishes this year. Also, I'm a full on Vino fan now after his work this year. He was super strong on his own right and a great help to Contador. Lastly, go Cav! I was stoked to see him come back in force. Sans-Renshaw he's still the big dog.
--Looks like Van den Broeck got into it with Sarkozy's (@Sarkozy) crew on the Tourmalet. That's Sarkozy as in the President of France. And that's Van den Broeck as in heretofore unknown Belgian cyclist. Chapeau to Sarkozy though for his response: "I'm not the star here, it's about the riders."
--Anyone catch Kolobnev's (@A_Kolobnev) cutoffs the other day?? PRO!
--Here's a eerie pic from stage 2:
--Finally, someone wrote something about this skinsuit:
I noticed it a while back and thought it was super funky. I knew there had to be some aero benefits to it. Looks like Garmin is playing it cool though to avoid getting it banned.
I'm all for science and taking every step necessary, but this may be too far for me. This thing is absolutely disgusting. I think they should definitely ban it. Making the material more aero is one thing, making the shape of the skinsuit more aero is quite another.
Until then, go Garmin and go science!
--For non-Tour news, Floyd was on national TV the other night. I didn't watch it but here's one of my favorite quotes from the article:
"Look, at some point, people have to tell their kids that Santa Claus isn't real," Landis said. "I hate to be the guy to do it, but it's just not real."
(Lance is Santa Claus??)
--Marc de Maar's (@MarcdeMaar) stint at United was rather short-lived. Guess that's what happens when you boss it with the big dogs at the Tour of Cali. Let's hope Max Jenkins is the next to go!
Speaking of de Maar, there was some Twitter beef with him and Andy Jacques-Maynes (@ajmiac) today (I think AJM started it with a Tweet to Max Jenkins (@Max_jenkins)).
@ajmiac I should be smarter than this, but you are a joke.....
--This interview with Specialized owner Mike Sinyard makes me proud to own a Specialized. I typically don't go around hawking Specialized to peeps but I'll give a plug for them. I've had my bike for two years. It's stiff, it takes a beating, and I've had zero troubles with the bike. I had a problem with the saddle early on, a Toupe. One of the side bars (on the top, not the bottom) broke. I sent it in and they sent me the best saddle they make which was better than the one I had, no questions asked. I will say that the Toupe gave me horrible saddle sores due to the cutout. The missing part in the middle alleviates pressure on the perineum ("taint") but adds pressure to the area surround it. It was, however, probably the most comfortable saddle I've ever ridden. It felt natural and if I hadn't been riding 20+ hours a week at the time it might have worked for me. I digest.
Some of the most expensive bikes have some of the worst customer service and/or construction. I've seen many Orbeas that crack, although I've heard they have great customer service. Cervelos have very thin downtubes. Lugged carbon is fantastic and feels super smooth (Parlee, Look, Time, Calfee, et cetera). That being said, Time has awful customer service. I tried for months to get a new drop for my bike and received zero response. Calfee, despite being an hour from here, has awful customer service. I've experienced and heard more than a handful of horror stories. Cannondale, Specialized, and Trek are all super solid bikes.
At the end of the day though, most of my decision rests in the name on the bike. If I have a problem with a Colnago you can bet it's going to be a royal pain getting it replaced, if it even happens. (I heard a story about a guy cracking the seat tube on a De Rosa while standing up climbing. De Rosa offered to sell him a new frame for 1500 Euro.)
Yes, you can buy a Pinarello and enjoy its massive EURO cred. But when the thing breaks you're left without a bike. It's like buying a Ferrari. You get the massive cred, and whatever other benefits it bestows, but at the end of the day you better know a good mechanic.
If I have a problem with my Specialized, I take it into my local dealer and a week or two later I have a replacement that's better than what I had. That, my friends, is the Specialized difference.
--Goodbye sweet Tour...