Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tour de France, Coverage and Cars

While I work in news, I don't really follow sports. Sure, I listen to our reports on WTOP (we have the best in the business!)  but I'm lost when it comes to taking apart the stats and plays. 

That said, anyone who rides a bike --no matter how you ride and what you ride--has at least a passing interest in the world-famous Tour de France.

The cycling world has had its share of drama in recent years. I'm talking about the accusations and investigations into doping. But this year, the drama's been provided by what's been happening on the road, not off it. The crashes. 

And as someone who gets from point A to point B in the District by bike, I think about the risks I'm taking every time I get on the bike. I think about how I have to anticipate what a motorist will do, what the road conditions may be like and what obstacles may pop up along the way. 

But you'd think in the Tour de France, while the riders have to deal with steep climbs and breath-taking descents, cars wouldn't be an issue. Not this year.

It was a French TV vehicle that clipped two riders, reportedly ignoring radio instructions to hang back. 

Clearly I have no clue what was going on in the head of that driver...did he think he had to race ahead to the the footage he needed? Who knows. I do know that as a reporter, I've done some dumb, silly things in order to get the sound I needed to make a story or a beat a deadline. We do what we can to get the story. We try not to become the story. 

So while I understand the pressures onTV crews in covering a fast-moving event like the Tour de France, I was as stunned as anyone watching. And one cyclist, Jens Voigt, blogged about the day and expressed the thought: Isn't this one arena in which a cyclist should not have to watch out for cars? 

One of the cyclists who went down, Dutchman Johnny Hoogerland, displayed class along with guts. He and Juan Antonio Flecha got back on their bikes to finish the day, and according to Le Soir, Hoogerland took a very forgiving  tone. His take: "It's nobody's fault." This after he was thrown into the air and landed on his back hung up on barbed wire. 

Tough guy, and a magnanimous one too.  

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