2011 Tour de France TV coverage on Versus and NBC

Cycling’s Tour de France has become a little like the reality show The Bachelor. Guys jockey for position, shirts come off and go on again, and there’s the rare moment of drama in the winding, tedious ordeal that should have ended weeks ago. In the end, you really don’t care who wins, because there’s going to be a nasty breakup in the future anyway and the whole experience makes you feel sleazy. Such is the state of cycling in the age of doping scandals.

But, legitimate or not, the show will go on. The 98th edition of cycling’s Tour de France starts July 2 at Passage du Gois in western France. The race is made up of 21 stages covering a total distance of 3,471 km, with emphasis on the Alps. The 18th stage has the highest summit finish in the race’s history, at the top of the Col du Galibier mountain pass. The race ends July 24 on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Last year, Spain’s Alberto Contador won his second straight Tour and third in four years.

Versus begins its coverage live July 2 at 8am ET. NBC’s coverage begins July 2 at 2pm ET and July 3 at 2pm ET. Versus continues with live coverage daily at 8am ET.

Below is the press release from NBC Sports Group highlighting Tour coverage on TV, online and social media channels:

NBC SPORTS GROUP GIVES CYCLING FANS 360-DEGREE ACCESS TO THE GREATEST CYCLING EVENT OF THE YEAR – 98TH ANNUAL TOUR DE FRANCE

Multi-platform Coverage Available On-Air, Online at NBCSports.com and Through Mobile Apps

For the First Time Ever, NBC Sports will Air Stages 1-2 on July 2 & 3; VERSUS to Average 14 Hours of Coverage Each Day

“This year’s race is built for the climbing specialists. Everyone is expecting a battle for a third straight year between Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck, but there is every indication that this will not be the case. This has the makings of a vintage Tour.” – NBC Sports Group’s Phil Liggett

NBC Sports Group, the exclusive television home of the Tour de France in the U.S., will begin its coverage of the most grueling event in all of sports on VERSUS on Saturday, July 2, at 8 a.m. ET, live at the grand start from the Passage du Gois in France. Additionally, for the first time ever, NBC Sports will broadcast coverage of the opening two stages on July 2 at 2 p.m. ET and July 3 at 3 p.m. ET, respectively. VERSUS will air an average of 14 hours of race action per day in full HD throughout the 21-stage competition that covers more than 2,000 miles, including live coverage every morning of competition at 8 a.m. ET.

VERSUS’ production continues to evolve, and this year’s daily coverage will have a new look and feel to the race action. The most notable changes will be to the enhanced primetime show each night from 8-11 p.m. ET, which will feature a combination of race coverage and cycling insight as well as highlights from some of the compelling stories throughout the Tour. Each show will include interviews with the riders at the start and finish lines, analysis and strategy segments as well as other content designed for cycling fans and those who are new to the sport. Additionally, the network will collaborate with Gripped Films, producers of the critically acclaimed Tour de France documentary “Chasing Legends,” for daily, behind-the-scenes footage from the team that wins each day’s stage, to the night before they start in the next day’s competition.

The network will also give viewers the best coverage with bonus features such as: cameras on many of the team’s buses, including Garmin-Cervelo, HTC-Highroad, RadioShack, and Leopard Trek; a pointer feature which will easily identify and focus on one rider in the 195-plus peloton; exclusive, in-depth profiles and features on teams and riders; and advanced on-screen statistics/biometrics to illustrate the intensity at which the riders are competing; among others.

Legendary announcers Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, the undisputed voices of cycling, will once again call all the race action for both the live and nightly shows, with Robbie Ventura and Craig Hummer contributing as field reporters. New host Liam McHugh and analyst Bob Roll will contribute to the pre-race coverage and helm the primetime studio show each night with contributing analyst Todd Gogulski. Gogulski, a former professional cyclist, has covered various cycling events, including the Giro d’Italia, the Vuelta a España and the World Road Championships for Universal Sports since 2009.

Tour de France All Access: VERSUS will surround its on-air coverage with Tour de France All Access, unprecedented cycling content on many different platforms, including tourdefrance.nbcsports.com for the first time since NBCSports.com and VERSUS.com combined forces to create a single, robust destination for sports fans. The network will offer users both a free and premium-subscription product which gives fans a multi-platform, all-encompassing viewing experience to the greatest cycling event of the year. Tour de France All Access offers live streaming video of every stage in full HD, with the ability to pause, rewind and slow-mo the image. While watching live coverage online, viewers will also have access to a live GPS tracking map, to follow the riders’ progress or to see an enhanced interactive map for each stage. Also, subscribers can personalize their Tour experience by choosing their favorite riders and teams to track throughout the Tour. Additionally, all the features of the NBCSports.com online experience will be mirrored in the Tour de France All Access apps for the iPhone, and for the first time this year, on iPad and Android devices.

There are also many free elements available to cycling fans at NBCSports.com and through the mobile apps, which are listed below.

Before the Tour:

  • Stage-by-stage descriptions and previews, featuring historical stage information, technical information and interesting travelogue vignettes
  • Breakdown of top contenders
  • Historical top 10 lists
  • Look back at the best of the 2010 Tour de France

Once the Tour begins:

  • Recaps and highlights of the day’s big events and story lines
  • Expert predictions for each stage
  • Route previews
  • Interviews with the top riders
  • Video highlights of each stage
  • Live stage results
  • Detailed standings, including overall and classifications
  • Rider profiles by country and team
  • Course and stage maps, elevation profiles and stage descriptions
  • Live news stream during every stage
  • Photo slideshows
  • Tour de France Twitter stream, which will showcase the top race authorities, including riders, analysts, officials and fans

Additional Features and Elements (more information available at tourdefrance.nbcsports.com):

  • Aquaphor Le Tour Challenge: Users can ride their bikes on any given day of the Tour de France to see how they compare to the pros and other cyclists from around the world. They can create a team, join a team, or ride solo, and enter to win great prizes.
  • Travelers Fantasy Cycling Challenge: A traditional fantasy game where users select their own team of cyclists and compete with others for daily prizes and grand prize trip to the 2012 Tour de France.
  • IZOD Race for the Podium Watch & Win Sweepstakes: During each stage, VERSUS viewers are given an on-air code word that they can use for a chance to win a trip to the 2012 Tour de France and Cervelo Bikes.

Social Media: Fans can also keep up with the Tour de France through VERSUS’ social media platforms throughout the race. Content will include:

  • Behind the Scenes: Through the VERSUS Cycling Facebook page and @VSCycling on Twitter, fans receive exclusive behind-the-scenes photos, interviews and video.
  • Commentator Tweets: VERSUS commentators Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen will provide Twitter content throughout race.
  • Fan Questions: Fans will have the opportunity to ask questions to VERSUS commentators, including Bob Roll in the “Ask Bobke” segment, via Facebook and Twitter.
  • News: Fans can follow VERSUS Cycling Facebook and VSCycling Twitter accounts to receive the most up to date reports and stories from around the cycling world.

20 Comments

  1. I Agree with all the comments. First, why didn’t they have the podium coverage during the first live race in the morning. That was something my husband and I thoroughly miss. They ended the race, said we’ll be right back for the wrap up and podium and then, it began the 1st race all over again. No podium, no discussion, nothing.
    Secondly, We Terribly miss Craig Hummer. The yellow jersey contest was the best and now Liam comes on and says he’s not competing but jumping on board with one of the “boys” because frankly he doesn’t think the people at home care about his choice anyway. No offense, but here’s a clue….GIVE US CRAIG HUMMER BACK.

    Even NBC’s website stinks. The coverage is not the same, thanks NBC for making a complete mess out of a sport that casual cyclists like me grew to love through the Fab 4 and the versus crew. My husband is an avid cyclist and he is both disappointed and frustrated as well. Put it back the way it was, PLEASE listen to the comments and requests of all of these viewers.

  2. Have to agree that the NBC coverage is lame. We’re based on the West Coast so a 5:00 am start is the only option with the evening segment no longer being run. Liam seems to have less cycling knowledge than my 11 year old who is an avid Tour fan. Many folks have suggested reuniting Craig, Bob, Paul and Phil…sage advice! We used to particpate in our own family version for the “yellow jersey”, a piece that has been dropped to the detriment of the Tour coverage. This is a premier global sporting event. Would NBC ever consider running the NFL playoffs at 5:00 am and not offer a full replay in the evening? I don’t think so…

  3. My husband and I are so disappointed in this years coverage. Apparently NBC did not do their homework when they joined the tour. The new format is awful. Bring back Craig, Bob, Phil and Paul and get rid of the numbskull who thought up this new format. It honestly stinks. Will be using the fast forward button on the DVR and watching racing only. Thanks NBC for giving us more time to ride.

  4. This is the only sporting event I watch all year. I enjoy the travel monologue as well as the racing. Where is Bob Roll and Craig Hummer doing the evening commentary? Phil and Paul are great, but put Bob and Craig on also. The old format is what got casual bicycle racing fans to watch it for 3 weeks. Quit screwing it up.

  5. I have only been watching the TDF for 2 years, but over 2 years developed a strong loyalty and affinity for the presentation of the greatest sporting event.
    I was so dismayed to see this years format completely retooled and honestly lacking.
    Craig Hummer helmed the anchor chair in fine fashion. the chemistry and camaraderie was truly wonderful to see and listen to.
    Sad to say I DVR’d these first 2 stages and have already found myself fast forwarding due to the change in presentation.
    I don’t know why they chose to change it , but a massive miscalculation on many fronts.

  6. All of these comments are right on. Who is this Liam – awful and has a smugness that is not becoming at all. Bring back Craig Hummer and the fab four together. The predictions on the stage winners and yellow jersey competition were priceless. I always taped the day show with Phil and Paul, watched the primetime with Craig and Bob’s commentary and then played what I recorded! This new format is bad – why change a winning thing? Totally agree with the comment about 3 things that make Le Tour great – the 4 announcers we all REALLY LIKE, the racing and the camer work. Bring it back to normal!

  7. We’ve been watching the tour coverage on oln versus heck even wide world of sports back in the day and were very disappointed that Craig seems to have been demoted! Bring back Craig and give the fans what they want. If you agree tell your friends and post something so NBC might see how unhappy we are and change, if not this year, the format for next year back to the way we liked it (we’d even take Al Trautwig? Back)

  8. I just turned on the evening coverage for Stage 2, after missing Stage 1. Very surprised and disappointed that the magical studio chemistry of Phil, Paul, Craig, and Bob has been busted. Three things make Le Tour great TV on Versus: the racing, the camera work, and the announcing team … not necessarily in that order. Craig improved every year in the anchor seat, and the other three guys had been great for a long time.

    I hope this new announcing scheme works out.

  9. I think you can see from all of the comments above that you have made a bloody mess of things. My suggestion is to have NBC stay out of it altogether and let versus do whatt hey do well…cover the Tour de France

  10. So disappointed in the coverage this year. To watch live with the commentary of Phil, Paul, Craig and Bob was half of the fun of the tour. They always pointed out the history and details that add so much to the tour. It’s just not the same, going to other websites to get all the missing details that my $29.95 paid for! Hope they learn from this year and bring back the real team for next year!

  11. Agreed!! Where is Craig?? Put him back on the team please! Dynamics are just not the same! Ugh!

  12. Utter crap. Last year, I paid the $29.95 and got to watch the coverage live online. It was marvelous. This year, I assumed it would be the same, but somehow, even though I paid the fee, I STILL cannot watch the Tour live online. And there’s no support. It’s unbelievable how ineptly designed NBC’s website is, and how completely unresponsive their customer service.

  13. I just purchased the $29.95 coverage, falsely assuming it would be similar to last year. I was *immediately* disappointed, and it seems I am not able to watch a stage after it is completed, I am forced to watch it live.

    If that’s the case I would like my money back and I can just follow text-based standings on the French website.

    Completely disappointed.

  14. My husband and I wholeheartedly agree with all the above comments. We only get cable subscription one month a year – July. And just for the tour de France coverage by Bob, Phil, Paul, and Craig. This year’s format is miserable and awful. We want the old format back please!

  15. So sad to not see the same commentators as last year. I look forward all year to watching the tour with Phil, Paul, Bob and Craigs pre race show with their yellow jersey predictions. They all had such good chemistry together and it was very entertaining. Not into this new trio AT ALL. Very boring.

  16. Why are Craig Hummer and Bob Roll not doing prime time commentary for the tour? These guys were excellent together. Thanks for screwing up a winning combination NBC. You guys suck.

  17. I agree completely. Where are Paul and Phil? Where are the features that really make the tour come alive? Why is the evening coverage 90 minutes instead of 3 hours? I am so disappointed in this year’s coverage.

  18. Where is Craig Hummer? My husband and I miss him.
    And who the heck is Liam?? Has he ever raced in a major bike race??
    Put Craig back in his spot, please
    And return to the usual long show at night with the predictions from Bob, Craig, Phil and Paul.
    Why did you mess up a great thing and format.

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About Ryan Berenz 2064 Articles
Some things I like (in no particular order): Sports, Star Wars, LEGO, beer, 'The Simpsons' Seasons 1-13, my family and the few friends who are not embarrassed to be seen with me. Why yes, I am very interested in how much you like 'Alaskan Bush People.' #LynxForLife