Doggone it, haunt­ing words for Matt

Herald Sun - Switched On - - News - DANIEL HOY

TV COM­MEN­TA­TORS are of­ten re­mem­bered for ei­ther their best work, or their worst. Luck­ily, Tour de France com­men­ta­tor Matt Keenan (right) is best re­mem­bered for this piece of gold dur­ing last year’s Tour. As a dog ran into the pelo­ton caus­ing a group of rid­ers to crash, Keenan quipped: ‘‘Bring­ing a dog to a bike race is like tak­ing a shark to the pool.’’

It was com­men­tary that would prove prophetic.

On a train­ing ride in Clifton Hill in April, Keenan was brought down by the cy­clist’s nat­u­ral en­emy, a dog. Keenan was trav­el­ling at 45km/h when a dog ran in front of him. With no time to stop, Keenan ploughed into the an­i­mal and didn’t even have time to get his hands out to break the fall.

The re­sult was a frac­tured oc­cip­i­tal bone (the bone that con­nects the skull to the spine), 60 stitches in the face and the loss of a few teeth.

‘‘I had rid­den down the road, Alma Rd in Clifton Hill, for 20 years and never had a prob­lem,’’ Keenan says.

‘‘The next thing I know a dog runs out in front of me and I went down head first, prob­a­bly do­ing about 45km/h.

‘‘I was air­lifted to Royal Mel­bourne Hospi­tal and I had a neck brace on for two months.’’

To Tour de France fans, whose num­bers in Aus­tralia have grown steadily over the past few years, Keenan’s is a fa­mil­iar voice.

‘‘My role is to re­lieve the work­load on Phil Liggett and Paul Sher­wen,’’ he says.

‘‘Ba­si­cally I com­men­tate un­til the tele­cast goes live to Amer­ica.’’

Keenan was in­spired to take up bike rid­ing while watch­ing Greg LeMond in 1986 be­come the first Amer­i­can to win the Tour.

‘‘I rode a lot as a kid and then spent some time as a young adult racing as an am­a­teur in Europe and came to the re­al­i­sa­tion I was not good enough. But there was more than one way to skin a cat, and I de­cided I’d try the me­dia.’’

Keenan freely ad­mits he has been sit­ting on the wheel of sport’s doyen, Liggett, for years.

‘‘When he can’t do a gig he puts my name up. It’s a for­tu­nate po­si­tion to be in,’’ Keenan says.

‘‘I never asked him for any of the op­por­tu­ni­ties he puts me up for. I fig­ured if I did a good enough job then I would earn my stripes. ’’

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