Saddle up for another classic
The cycling circus is with us again as the world’s superstar riders and their frantic entourages go head to head in this most spectacular race as the Tour de France returns for its 26th year on SBS, with more than 200 hours of coverage and nightly live broadcasts direct from France. It is, as the French might say, a beguiling mix of beauty, thrills, passion, dreams and performance. Comprising 21 stages and covering a total of 3519km, the 103rd Tour de France will visit three neighbouring countries this year: Spain, the Principality of Andorra and Switzerland. And Le Grand Depart is in Normandy’s La Manche, the majesty of the gravity-defying Romanesque cathedral Mont-Saint-Michel providing the perfect backdrop to the athletic and aesthetic efforts of the peloton. The riders start the epic journey at the foot of the “Wonder of the Western World”, as the great gothic abbey is known, and chase each other to “a meeting with history”, arriving at Utah Beach, one of the beaches chosen on June 6, 1944, for the D-Day landing operations. The SBS commentary team, led in France by Michael Tomalaris, covering his 21st Tour, will broadcast every stage of the race. He is joined by three-time green jersey winner Robbie McEwen providing his insight into the race and Giro d’Italia stage winner Dave McKenzie, alongside former Tour de France rider Henk Vogels. New for this year’s event, McEwen, at one time regarded as the fastest professional sprinter in the game, will join Matthew Keenan in commentary at the start of each stage, before handing over to the voices of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen for the last 50km of each stage. The tour is simply an extraordinary spectacle and Liggett, at 72, remains broadcasting’s class act.
Tour de France, from tonight, nightly on SBS.
Robbie McEwen, left, joins veteran commentator Michael Tomalaris for this year’s Tour de France coverage