France Télévisions have announced the TV schedule of the 2012 Tour de France. As the production crew behind the TV images, they produce the video for domestic broadcasts in France but also the international feed which means their schedule is your schedule wherever you live.
As a rule there will be live coverage each day from 2.00pm Euro time onwards, with the finish planned each day between 5.00pm and 5.30pm. But seven stages will be screened in full, from start to finish:
- Sunday 8 July – Belfort > Porrentruy
- Thursday 12 July – Albertville > La Toussuire – Les Sybelles
- Friday 13 July – Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne > Annonay Davézieux
- Monday 16 July – Samatan > Pau
- Wednesday 18 July – Pau > Bagnères-de-Luchon
- Thursday 19 July – Bagnères-de-Luchon > Peyragudes
- Sunday 22 July – Rambouillet > Paris Champs-Elysées
This means the stage is broadcast from KM 0 all the way to the finish line. There’s no guarantee your local broadcaster will be offering the same coverage but if you’re keen you should be able to find a pirate video feed.
If you haven’t seen a full stage before, I’d recommend it. Five hours of racing is a long session even if you’re sitting comfortably at home with a supply of food and drink. I’d liken the experience to listening to the radio, as you will find you can do other things at the same time as the race is on. The advantage of watching the first hour is that you can see how the breakaway forms.
It’s tempting to think of the early move as group of chumps wasting their time in a futile effort that will only get the jersey some TV airtime. But watch the first hour and you’ll soon abandon that idea. Riders work the 11 sprocket like it’s a weapon, taking it in turns to attack all whilst everyone has fresh legs. It’s often the case that the first hour of racing is faster than the last hour. Of course sometimes the first attack goes up the road and that’s it and you’re left watching a five hour procession.
I blogged on the invisible first hour of racing for cyclingnews.com last July, you can read the piece at http://www.cyclingnews.com/blogs/inner-ring/dont-miss-the-early-action-each-tour-de-france-stage.
What’s the French word for frustration?
In addition to coverage of the race French TV offers broadcasts around the racing that is for the domestic audience. If you’re not in France you’re not missing much. There is a pre-race show that showcases the local area, there will be two chefs to cook up regional cuisine, handy since the show is broadcast around lunchtime. But the coverage is weak, they fail to attract anyone of interest. It’s often idiotic, here’s an example from the past:
Note the “Super Yellow” character has an intro with a voice that very similar to the francophone Homer Simpson. It’s funny for five minutes but no other sport in France gets such infantile coverage.
After the stage there is a post-stage broadcast with interviews behind the podium and riders invited to comment on the stage. It’s similar to the RAI’s Il Processo Alla Tappa during the Giro, but with less informed comment. Host Gerard Holtz seems to like asking riders questions like “was it hard today?” or “were you happy with the win?”.
There is one gem: Jean-Paul Olivier. Nicknamed “Polo La Science” for his “scientific” knowledge of France, he comes with meticulous notes on each stage, able to recount past instances of the Tour de France or the history of a chateau on the route. There’s not always action so having Olivier on standby improves the coverage, a luxury other channels don’t seem to have. The race organisers give out basic notes on the route and points of interest but Olivier spends the winter preparing folders of notes for each stage.