re:Cycling Reality TV

by Whitey Chapin and Dave Zornow

One of this summer’s “hottest” new shows is a reality based sports drama featuring daily updates each morning. It raises the usual reality fare a few notches, including spontaneous fistfights, a psychopath who has been kicked off the island, illicit drug use and egos which dwarf anything that Hollywood could imagine. This production uses real world class athletes competing for big prizes. And instead of unseen producers manipulating the circumstances to imitate reality…it uses reality.

OK, it’s in France. Maybe not the reality most of us share, but it’s reality for the 198 riders in this year’s Tour de France – a three-week daily drama taking place across the pond.

Reality shows are usually weekly cliffhangers. In this version, protagonists that ride on cliffs are often eliminated on a daily basis.

There is danger aplenty on the screen with steep canyons, narrow roads, rain, cars, motorcycles, the press and cobblestones. And let’s not forget team rivalries and personal rivalries. Add to this – doping allegations, drug tests and blood samples.

While Versus awaits validation of this programming with hopefully higher ratings, it seems like this reality show should produce that desired effect.

Too much to keep track of? Here’s a short list of Top Things You Should Know About The Tour de France so far:

  • Lance Armstrong – The sentimental favorite, in his final TDF race, crashes several times and is now too far back to win. According to BenepesBikeBlog on location coverage of the race, “Armstrong said he clipped pedals with another rider, his wheel rolled, and he came down hard as he was traveling about 65 kph (about 40 mph). He had bloody wounds on his arms and back.”  Lady Luck may have been in his corner on seven previous TDF wins, but not this year (Future Headline: “Lady Luck Bitch Slaps Lance in 8th TDF Win Attempt”)
  • Alberto Contador – Last year’s winner and Armstrong’s nemesis is riding effortlessly, currently in 3rd place.
  • Floyd Landis – The disgraced former rider has admitted to drug-taking and is trying to take Lance Armstrong down with him.
  • Great Finishes – Can happen on any single stage but never on the last one in Paris. Tradition dictates no change in leadership on the final day.
  • Crashes – Even after horrible crashes, some riders refuse to give up, others are not so lucky. A few notable crashes so far in the race: Christian Vande Velde (broken ribs /out), Tyler Farrar (broken wrist / in), Robert Gesink (fractured forearm / in), Adam Hansen (broken sternum / out).
  • Who’s leading now – Cadel Evans of Australia.
  • What’s next – Levi Leipheimer, Lance Armstrong’s teammate, is currently the highest-ranked American in 8th place, and Team RadioShack will now devote all its efforts to leading him to victory.
  • Who will win – Alberto Contador is the strongest rider and has excellent support on Team Astana.

Back to our show – watch out for the bikes lying on the road ahead of you.

Source: BenepesBikeBlog, 7/11/2010
See also: Canada.com 7/29/07

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