And so the Tour Down Under drifts by for another year. For most of us, here in the UK, it’s trimmed down to six two-minute YouTube clips.
Each digested stage comprising a sponsor heavy route profile; a director’s cut of the breakaway and catch; and a context-free two hundred metre finishing straight.
No sense whatsoever of the narrative of the day.
The time difference is the problem, of course; Australia being inconveniently half a day out of whack with Europe. Most of us are not awake through the night to watch this freshly minted new pro peloton roll through the environs of Adelaide, all crisp new uniform and brand spanking satchels.
Box fresh for the first week of term.
To compound the issue, as we watch our two-minute stage summaries, Phil Liggett wanders off down the nearest commentary blind alley while the action happens three seconds ahead of his brain.
You either call the winner yourself or wait for him to catch up.
The other consequence of the inconvenient Antipodean scheduling of the Tour Down Under is that my knowledge of pro cycling 2020 to date is minimal. It can be summarised thus:
Sam Bennett is an excellent sprinter; likewise Caleb Ewan; Matt Holmes – proof positive that pies are a super-food – might be the next iteration of a British World Tour rider; and Richie Porte can still ride quickly on home turf in January but may well, through form or ill fortune, fade at the Tour de France come July.Embed from Getty Images
Yes, he won his home race again, but the black cats of La Republique are limbering up as we speak. Upside down horseshoes to hand, strategically placed mirrors, pre-shatter, laid out along poor Richie’s likely path. Our favourite Tasmanian all set to metaphorically Macbeth* his way through the theatres of another Grand Tour.
(*It is said that, in the same way actors consider a Macbeth reference in a theatre the height of bad omens, many pro cyclists refuse to utter the words ‘Richie Porte’ whilst in France. Referring, instead, to the ‘The Tasmanian’.)
To watch the Tour Down Under is to not so much spectate on a bike race as intrude on a domestic incident. A televised argument about the credit card bills, or the correct way to put the lid on the bread bin, or something.
It’s Aussies scrapping with Aussies while rest of the world watches on thinking:
Hmm, look at those Aussies scrapping with each other…also why is Phil Liggett describing something near to those Aussies scrapping with each other before belatedly noticing the scrap has now finished and then mis-naming the protagonists?
A serviceable form of entertainment, if you like that sort of thing.
(Top Image: Richie Porte by Georges Menager via Flickr CC)