Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwen Leading the NBC Tour de France Broadcast, Teammates Need Rest

The first rest day of the Tour de France is good for many reasons. The riders and the race’s huge entourage all need rest.

But the one-day break (the event continues July 11 with stage 10) also allows event fans to collectively catch their breath and assess what’s happened in the race to date.

For those watching on television and online in the United States or accessing Twitter and cycling forums, it’s a near 24/7 proposition. And for Tour de France enthusiasts, that’s cycling nirvana.

Phil Liggett (L) and Paul Sherwen , NBC Sports Network broadcasters

But not everything about the constant information flow of Tour de France news is great.

The difference on Twitter between the Tour de France and other sports, I believe, is that as a once-a-year event, there’s too much on Twitter that’s simply play-by-play. Following followers of the Tour de France is often the modern day version of a phonograph stuck in a groove.

Knowing Peter Sagan won a stage is great, knowing it 20 times, isn’t interesting. Sometimes it seems those tweeting from the event or watching a live broadcast think they’re the only one telling the Twitter Nation that Peter Sagan won again.

The NBC Sports Network is broadcasting an unprecedented amount of Tour de France programming, the live content of which is again highlighted by the much-appreciated tandem of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen.

Like any longstanding broadcasting team, Liggett and Sherwen have detractors. But Liggett, now attending his 40th Tour de France, and Sherwen, who’s been at it a quarter century, are still terrific.

Does Liggett misidentify riders? Yes. Does Sherwen repeat his “go-to” phrases a lot? Yes. But the two broadcasters know each other so well and work together so well, their near limitless knowledge of cycling overshadow the mistakes and repetition.

Sherwen corrects Liggett gently; Liggett gives Sherwen plenty of time to reminisce about his time in the pro peloton, his friendships with team directors and his knowledge of French history. The marriage just works.

The evening broadcast of the race, a condensed rebroadcast of the day’s already concluded stage, isn’t as smooth. Bob Roll, the former pro, is unique. He knows the sport, provides insight and is also refreshing because he’s the antithesis of every pretty boy, slick-haired broadcaster type.

What doesn’t work as well is NBC’s three-broadcaster approach. Scott Moninger, the now-retired long-time rider, is the newcomer and it shows.

If Bob Roll makes a comment about team strategy, for example, Moninger often adds the same information. It’s not that Moninger isn’t trying, but with his quiet persona, Moninger hasn’t figuratively or literally found his voice and where and how it fits best. Wouldn’t another broadcast tandem work better for the network than having three broadcasters working hard just to find a way to share the airtime?

Like the event itself, the NBC broadcast team gets a rest from live stage reporting and quick stage analysis until Wednesday. Sherwen and Liggett still seem eternally fresh, but the night crew needs the time to recoup and re-evaluate its tactics.

Note: To watch live Tour de France video online, you can sign up for the $29.99 package for the entire race, or $4.99 per stage. Plus, you need to sign up for a Map My Ride account.

Comments

  1. Bill Ravens says:

    I think it’s absolutely despicable the way Mark Cavendish intentionally took out that other cyclist. It’s apparent from the video that he intentionally shoulder slammed that guy. If Cavendish isn’t penalized for that move, is cycling being reduced to the same as ice hockey?

  2. Dudley Seifert says:

    Right on, Bill. Absolutely no question about it. If we saw it, others. including race officials and commentators, saw it. I will never be able to look at Cavendish again without remembering that spiteful and potentially very dangerous act. The reaction of a punk no matter how good a cyclist he is and that is a pity.

  3. Dean Jackson says:

    I paid for the online access… and watching the replay of day 1, there’s no announcers!

    No Bob, no Phil, no Paul? No *anyone* after the start?

    What gives?

  4. Dean Jackson says:

    Okay, thirty minutes in, we get Phil and Paul. (Ahck! Who forgets to turn on the mic for half an hour?)

  5. K Bradford says:

    Why do we have to wait to hear Phil and Paul. Their knowledge of cycling is unprecedented and they cover it all year long. I have been watching the tour since 2001 and have learned everything from Phil and Paul. I like Bob but no offense they talk about EVERYTHING but the RACE It is driving me crazy and ruining the tour, this morning referred to a World War One graveyard as unfortunate history couldn’t even tell you the name. Of course as soon as we got Phil he named the grave yard. Please let us just hear Phil and Paul comment on the race!!

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