Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Magic Of Television & We Have A Villain

As is traditional for me I once again fell asleep during last nights coverage (Australian time) of the TDF. I know you are probably thinking its acceptable to fall asleep at midnight after a long day which began with an early morning ride followed by a full days work but there is more to it. My cycling induced narcolepsy goes much deeper, I even fall asleep in the middle of the day when watching recorded races. Its the same every time, with about 50km left to go I doze off only to wake up after the race has been won and the winner is standing on the podium. Sound familiar? I put it down to the background noise of the helicopter. That gentle droll must be at just the right pitch to induce a relaxing sleep.

Why would they need a microphone in the helicopter anyway? It's distance from whatever is happening on the road and the noise of the engine surely negates any reason for a microphone being there. Does it somehow add to our viewing pleasure? Are we to imagine ourselves as VIP's watching the drama of the race unfolding from high above, while we swill local wines and discuss the regional cheese? Brace yourselves people because I'm about to blow this deception wide open.... Its a sound effect, the coverage is full of them.

When the coverage crosses to the action on the road, if you listen very carefully to the sound of the motor bike you will notice somebody cheering in the background, the same cheering is repeated around every five seconds even when there are no roadside spectators... That's right, somewhere in a little booth there is a guy at a sound effects panel doing his best to make us feel like we are rolling along with the bunch or in the break. I wish I hadn't noticed it but I did and I cant un-notice it now. The breathtaking pictures we receive are more than enough to satisfy me, must they sully them with indigestible garnish? Why does our wonderful sport have to be ruined by lies?

Of course the issue Du Jour everyone seems to have their chamois in a knot over was the conduct of that yellow jersey thieving Spaniard. Predictably I was sound asleep as the drama unfolded and had to watch the highlights when I arose from my helicopter sound effect induced slumber, and what great highlights they were. I could see the larcenous intent in Contador’s eyes as he and that devious Kazakh sped away while poor Andy took what seemed like forever to get his chain back on and get moving again.

Of course unlike pretty much every other sport on the planet, in cycling if you’re a favourite in a race and the leader of that race (your opponent) has an inopportune mishap, you are expected to be chivalrous and dally unhurriedly, pending your foes rejoining the mêlée. Can you imagine this happening in Formula One or Pigeon Racing? Of course not. But in cycling as well as Omerta, there is also an unwritten rule that you wait for the yellow jersey in the event of a mishap. Here’s what poor Andy had to say about it.

Incidentally If you love controversy you should read about what happened to Nicholas Roche on stage 15.

I do feel for poor Andy, Contador fans are  saying Andy didn’t exactly wait for Berto during the cobbled high jinx of stage three did he? In fact he and his shifty Swiss team-mate put as much time as they could into their rivals, remember? That shady Australian was there too.

Are we all missing something? Obviously there must be a point in a grand tour after which etiquette dictates that you must wait for an incapacitated rival. We must be close to that cusp as opinion seems to be divided over Contador’s controversial manoeuvre. Evidently stage three was nowhere near that point because when Andy didn’t wait for Berto nobody mentioned any unwritten rules, but then again Berto wasn't wearing yellow at the time. These things really should be workshopped before the race just so everyone is on the same page, it would save so much endless cycling chat room banter.

Sometimes the viewing public needs a villain to generate a little more interest in the sport. In wrestling jargon the villain is known as the "heel". I'm not saying that the race organisers manufactured the the whole sordid affair to generate more interest but....

I’m not going to give you my opinion on the matter, the media is full of dedicated pundits offering their specialist analysis on the occurrence and I’m certainly no expert (you should have waited Berto). I only really watch the TDF to see the low budget television commercials for local bike shops anyway.
For entertainments sake, let your legs do the talking Andy and bring on the Tourmalet.

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