Calling the Tour

Amid profound popular ennui, I will cease my mean-spirited critiques of OLN’s sterling Tour de France race coverage. Though — one last thing — you start to wonder if play-by-play man extraordinaire Phil Liggett will ever, ever get the difference between kilometers per hour and miles per hour. On practically every big descent on the tour so far, he’s taken a look at some picture of riders hurtling down the road, sized up the situation, then announced: “These boys are going ’round about 50 kilometers an hour here.” No, Phil, that’s 50 miles an hour. There’s actually quite a difference. Sometimes Paul Sherwen, the anointed OLN analyst, corrects him.

But my bashing aside, here’s the point: It’s not that Liggett and Sherwen are so rotten. It’s just that they seem to have a lock on the job no matter how well or badly they do — and much of the time they’re really mediocre. It’s hard to believe that there’s not a single English-speaking sports guy out there who’s deeply knowledgeable about competitive cycling and the Tour and who could sound half-way smart on the tube. Say (Kate’s suggestion) Greg LeMond (though Greg is on the outs with the whole “We Love Lance Armstrong” movement, so he’d never get the job. OK, then. Tyler Hamilton. Wait — he’s an accused doper.

Well, there’s got to be someone.

5 Replies to “Calling the Tour”

  1. The commentary on these mountain stages is getting a bit insipid, isn’t it? Around our house OLN = Only Lance Network. I’m starting to root for Jan Ulrich – it makes things more interesting! Vive le Tour!

  2. Sometimes those broadcasters are just the folks you love to hate, or bash, or satirize. I used to cringe when Joe Garagiola so much as opened his mouth during a broadcast of the Westminster Dog Show. After Fred Willard did the world’s most hysterical send-up of Joe’s clueless commentary in “Best In Show,” I couldn’t wait for Westminster each year so I could howl at his ridiculous comments. Now Joe’s not doing the show any more, and I almost miss him. He was so bad he was good. It may become true for these two on OLN — all they need is to be spoofed in a Christopher Guest movie, I guess.

  3. Lydell — you mean Margaret Hamilton as a Tour announcer? Hey, there’s an idea. She could be paired with Elsa Lanchester.

  4. I didn’t even know Fred Willard was sending up Joe
    Garagiola in that role — I admit I’ve never watched
    that event on TV — buut that makes it even funnier.
    You’re right about the Tour guys, too — they’re sort
    of the guys you love to hate, and it’s part of being a
    sports fan to bitch about the announcers. On the other
    hand, not a stage goes by without a fresh example of
    their — don’t know what to call it — carelessness.
    But I won’t launch into my fresh complaint for today.
    I have to remember that at some level, it’s a real
    treat to be able to see the Tour live at all.

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