NBCOlympics.com, Facebook Collaborate on Sharing Option During London Games

As if Facebook and NBCOlymics.com aren’t both about to experience monster traffic on their own during the Summer Olympics, imagine the two portals working together.

That’s about to happen. Facebook users who add NBCOlympics.com to their Timeline will automatically be able to share with friends anything they’re reading and watching on NBCOlympics.com without the need to click ‘share’ or ‘like’.  

The process is simple, click on the TRY IT button, you will be asked to give permission to allow NBC Olympics to display your activity from NBCOlympics.com on your Facebook timeline.

Adding NBC Olympics to your Facebook timeline lets you express who you are through the things you do – what you are reading, watching or voting on.

Sharing your NBC Olympic activity helps your friends get to know you better and lets them discover interesting new NBC Olympic content.  You can also see what your friends are doing, so you can find really cool videos or stories you might be interested in checking out.

An NBC Olympic account isn’t required. Rather, an interested user in the feature, simply needs to access their Facebook account through NBCOlympics.com

Each time you read a news article, blog post, or watch a video on NBCOlympics.com, it will be automatically shared with your friends. Feature user can control the social sharing at their discretion.

To learn more about the TRY IT feature, visit: www.nbcolympics.com

James Raia is editor and publisher in Sacramento,  California. Visit his site: www.tourdefrancelife.com

Tour de France Nears Paris Finale But Monster Final Mountain Stage Remains

The final mountain stage and traditional penultimate time trial stage two days later will highlight beginning Thursday the final four days of the 99th Tour de France and its unique current overall title competition.

Not since the mid-1980s, when cycling icons Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond battled for supremacy, has the Tour de France featured teammates in the top two spots.

Bradley Wiggins (Sky) of Great Britain has led the race for 10 days and while not a dominating climber, he’s ridden strategically well to remain in the lead. He’s held off all pursuers, including teammate and compatriot Chris Froome, who in the Alps at times appeared stronger than the race leader.

But after a difficult day in the Pyrenees in stage 16, the weary Wiggins, Froome and the rest will be at it again in stage 17 Thursday, the event’s “queen stage.” The 89.2-mile trek from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Peyragudes has five categorized climbs.

The summit of the Port de Balès (11.7km at 7.7 percent), the three-week race’s final beyond category ascent, arrives about 20 miles from the finish. It will be a new challenge for most of the field since the Port de Balès has only been featured twice in previous Tours.

Wiggins retains the same 2:05 advantage over Froome and 2:23 margin over Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) of Italy that he’s had for days. Defending race titlist Cadel Evans (BMC) of Australia, faltered in stage 16 and is now seventh more than eight minutes behind.

There’s the chance Wiggins could suffer and lose time in the final mountain stage. But his strength waits in the stage 19 individual time, a 33-mile ride on Saturday from Bonneval to Chartes.

Wiggins claimed the race’s earlier shorter individual time trial over Froome by 35 seconds. Defending race titlist Cadel Evans (BMC) of Australia, lost nearly two minutes to Wiggins in the first time trial. And American Tejay van Garderen, now sixth overall (7:55) finished fourth, but more than a minute behind.

Wiggins, therefore, appears on his way toward claiming the first Tour de France title by a British rider. But as has occurred many times in the long history of the Tour de France, the riders still have to pedal their bikes to Paris on Sunday, which means anything can happen.

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.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca offers App For Food, Auto Parts Discounts for Rest of 2012 Season

The most prestigious motorcycle racing event in the Unites Sates is on the imminent horizon and that means good thing for those in attendance with hearty appetites and a wont to save some money.

The Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, featuring the MotoGP World Championship, scheduled July 27-29, is the first of the three remaining motorsports events this season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.

With the Corkscrew Passport app, available for free download, on iTunes, several restaurants on the Monterey Peninsula are offering dining discounts during the three events. The new app allows users to make reservations at participating partner restaurants, get directions and post to the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca fan wall.

“Our fans come from all over the world and are eager to explore the area but want suggestions on where to go,” says Gill Campbell, CEO/general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “The discounts are a bonus. The real value to the fan is its simplicity. It’s all at their fingertips.”

Initial Corkscrew Passport participating partners and their offers:
Anton & Michel (Carmel): 15 percent off entire meal
Cannery Row Brewing Company (Monterey): happy hour pricing anytime
Famous Dave’s (Salinas): free appetizer with purchase
Merlot Bistro! (Carmel): 15 percent off entire meal
Portabella (Carmel): 15 percent off entire meal
Santa Cruz Auto Parts (Santa Cruz): 15 percent off parts, products or services
The Grill on Ocean Avenue (Carmel): 15 percent off entire meal

In addition to the MotoGP World Championship, the benefits of the Corskscrew Passport will be available during the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (August 17-19) and Continental Tire Sports Car Festival, powered by Mazda (Sept. 7-9).

For more information about Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca or the Corkscrew Passport, visit www.MazdaRaceway.com.

James Raia is a California-based journalist who writes about sports, travel and leisure. Visit his cycling site at tourdefrancelife.com

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.