Sunday, May 5, 2013

Grand Tour Time! Giro d'Italia Is Now

Many JBar Cycling readers follow the pro bike racing scene closely. For those of you who don't, let me reassure you that bike racing did not die with the demise of the legend of Lance; on the contrary, I think that racing is better than ever. Springtime in Europe is loaded up with one-day classics like Milan-San Remo, , Tour of Flanders, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Amstel Gold, and the big daddy of them, Paris-Roubaix. Through in a bunch of 3-day to week-long tours and we have had a hell of a lot of good racing.

If you want to watch the season-in-a-nutshell, I was introduced to a great resource recently (Thanks, Drew!) in the form of Cyclocosm. In addition to some podcast-style rants on various topics from host Cosmo Catalano, races are broken down in a succinct and often hilarious manner in his regular "How The Race Was Won" video features. Here is a sampling. I selected Paris-Roubaix for your viewing pleasure:

The spring racing season is behind us and now we enter the serious count-down to the 2013 Tour de France with the first of the 3-week Grand Tours, the Giro d'Italia which started Saturday, May 4.
The grand tours evolve over the years, and the last few Giros have been great for the tifosi (as the fanatical Italian fans are called), but not so good for the riders, with brutal climbs, impossibly technical and dangerous urban routes over streets built more for Roman sandals than for a speeding peloton.
Organizers have supposedly toned things down a bit after rider protests and snow-shortened routes in 2012, but the Giro d'Italia remains perhaps the most beautiful of the Grand Tours. In searching out television coverage, I came across an unfamiliar resource, the BEIN Sports network (channel 268 on Central Arkansas Comcast), which had live broadcasts and highlights of Stages 1 and 2 of the Giro. Interestingly, BEIN is owned and operated by Qatari Sports Investments, an affiliate of Al Jazeera Media Networks. While watching an Al Jazeera affiliate may be considered considered un-American by the folks at Fox (hell, I consider Fox News to be subversive, myself), I don't think that I've become any less patriotic over the last couple of days. I'll qualify that by confessing that I was rooting for a foreigner, Manx sprinter Mark Cavendish, in the first stage. I've always liked the brash sprinters, being a long-time Robbie McEwen fan before Cav blew onto the scene. Both have a banty rooster style of toughness, pocket-sized and absolutely fearless, though Cavendish does show his youth with a bit of a tender side that I never saw McEwen display.

I did not see any more Giro coverage scheduled for TV, but you can see almost any bike races live on cyclingfans if you can park in front of a computer. You can also often see recorded video of race finishes and key moves after the race is over. Fortunately, many of the most exciting summit finisher come on weekends. Once you get a feel for it, navigation on cyclingfans is fairly easy. Click on "live coverage" and select an English language link. DO NOT download any of the browser upgrades, etc. Just wait a couple of minutes and you can close out the annoying ads that park over the streaming video.


James said...

I've been riding the bike again for about six months now. I still like Fox News and haven't become a vegan. Maybe I'm just a contrarian.

I love Cosmo, though. Great commentary and synth parts! Do you have to subscribe to beIn Sports? I don't get it on Comcast in NLR.

JBar said...

I get Bein Sports in my Comcast package. I found it by searching for 'cycling' on my DVR. I had never heard of it previously. I do have a sports package.