Doggone it, haunting words for Matt
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. ’’