Saturday, July 5, 2008

Tour de France 2008 Stage 1: Isn't It A Piti

So this is our Brand New Start, eh? Oh, I hope so. It would have been so much, er, cleaner if Columbia and Kim Kirchen had held on. Meaning, at the least, it would have fit in with Versus' theme, and the pushing of the American teams. I'll give him this, Alejandro Valverde is a colorful winner, what with his new national champion's accents on his kit and bike.

Lovely opening to the show from Versus. Those dramatic voice-over pieces can be goofy sometimes, but this one hit just the right notes. And Take Back The Tour indeed - we've taken it back from Al Trautwig - oh happy day! Craig Hummer was a little nervous, but he worked it out, as Randy would say. A little clunky to go from the stirring opening to a review of random dopers in other sports, but I guess they have to make the "come on in, the water's fine" pitch.

And I see they reworked their big commercial - Alexandre Vinokourov going backwards into the start house instead of David Millar. If nothing else, I'm sure Saunier Duval got on Versus to fix that one.

Happy to have Frankie Andreu still on board, hope he's back at the desk for primetime as last year. Robbie Ventura is still a little green behind the mic, but if Frankie is any indication, Robbie has the potential to grow into it nicely. And he's got that infectious enthusiasm. The green screen behind Phil and Paul is a nice idea, it makes you think they're not so packed into a tiny booth.

After watching the Giro on RAI, and so many spring races online, all the commercials on Versus are a shock to the system. Thank goodness for online streaming to fill the gaps. It seemed like all the good fans-in-costumes shots came during commercials, can't miss those! The ads can be amusing though. Lance's voice on the Trek commercial caught my attention, and then I had to chuckle when his face came on at the end. A perfectly normal roundness to it for a mere mortal, but to see Lance's face with flesh on his bones in July takes some getting used to.

As for the racing at hand, it was fun to see the smiles and chats in the early going. And just heartbreaking to see the crashes, months of dreams and planning coming to a screeching halt on the very first day. The break kept things lively, with the hotly contested sprints and mountain points. Thomas Voeckler has such a proper little riding style, makes me smile every time. French TV loves to show him of course, so at least he's entertaining to watch. Good for him for getting ahead at the finish to secure the polka dot jersey. I give him credit for trying something every year to justify the endless attention, not just resting on the laurels of his memorable run in yellow some years ago.

Handshake, catch, exciting run into the finish, we're back in business. Thankfully the bridge drama did not live up to its hype, but in fairness there was random crash drama moments earlier that split up the field before they hit the hard right. I haven't seen the full rundown yet, but it seems our favorites kept their heads about them and made the front split, losing only a second to Valverde. Save of course Mauricio Soler, injured in that random crash. I dearly hope it's not serious and he can battle on. George Hincapie and Christian Vande Velde were looking fully adrenalized after the finish, in their fresh buzz cuts, glad to make it through day one safely and ready for more action!

When the Versus coverage was over, I switched over to Wimbledon. The men's doubles final came on and there was some Serbian dude serving who looked vaguely like Salvatore Commesso, and I thought, where's his helmet? Oops, switch gears. I'll have to catch a replay of the women's match sometime, sounds like the sisters finally had a good one, good on Venus for getting back on top.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I'll take Al Trautwig over Craig Hummer any day. Hummer's destruction of the English language, "...we'll hear more through Robbie and he later in the show..." OUCH!!!
Prepositions, anyone?
And Hummer and Ventura sound like male Laura Ingrahams. From the diaphragm boys, from the diaphragm.