Tour of Ireland on Versus: Why Bother?

Hey, the Tour of Ireland looks like an interesting race. Our current drive-by shooting has to do with the way Versus put the thing on the air. The network allotted an hour and a half to the race’s first three stages, all won in bunch sprints by Team Columbia’s Mark Cavendish.

Then came the decisive stages, last Saturday and Sunday. Versus allotted the same 90 minutes total to air both stages. Saturday’s ride included the picturesque and insanely narrow Conor Pass road and a loop out the Dingle Peninsula to Slea Head (hey: we walked most of this route in 1973, but that’s another story). Sunday’s finale began in Killarney and finished with a tough circuit in Cork.

The net result of jamming those two stages into one shortish broadcast was a horribly edited series of race glimpses. What was supposed to come across as a cohesive narrative of two race days came across as a chaotic and disjointed montage in which it was impossible to tell where the racers were, where groups and individuals were on the course or relative to each other. Of course, none of that stopped resident jabberers Paul Sherwen and Phil Liggett from filling time with meaningless prattling about the beautiful Irish countryside and the Kingdom of Kerry.

But the broadcast was not without its charms. Charm One was a post-Stage Four interview with Cavendish. He had lost the leaders jersey after getting dropped on the Conor Pass climb. The interviewer asked him what happened. Cavendish paused, flashed a genuinely perplexed look, and said, “I got dropped.” He went on to explain that the pace set by Garmin-Chipotle’s David Millar was just too much. Charm Two was the colleens who served as podium girls. They were both taller and more robust-looking than the racers. But the truly transfixing them about them was the hideous dresses both had been given to wear. The lasses should find a solicitor and bring the designers to bar for a fashion crime of the first order.

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