Well the Tour is over and I’m back home in Madrid (of course not for long, but more on that later). First of all, my congratulations to Carlos Sastre and the entire CSC-Saxo Bank Team for their victories and riding a smart and efficient race.
Being at the Tour the final week was certainly an interesting experience. Actually, I should say that I was at the VERSUS compound which was parked at the finish line of the Tour!! It was weird because I was there, but yet wasn’t. Believe it or not, you never really see the race live. Even at the finish line, we’re often times parked with the other networks behind a bunch of trailers … The podium and hospitality areas need to get the prime position.
What I learned from working on the television side?? … It’s hard work … And I was only there for one week!! The finish line broadcasters (Craig Hummer, Bob Roll, Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin) all travel to the next finish city after each stage. By the time we wrap up the post-stage filming, get down the mountain with all the typical Tour craziness and get to the hotel, we’re looking at a dinner usually between 11 and midnight. Then of course I check-in with my wife, do some work emails and before you know it, I’m in bed at 2:00 AM. Now you may think that since we’re at the finish line we can start our day pretty late. Wrong! Often times, we had to be at the set as early as 9:00 AM.
As for the television experience … It was great and I have a ton of appreciation for what these guys do day-in and day-out. Craig Hummer is an amazing talent … The words just come out of his mouth like he was preparing for years, when in fact, most of the stuff is on the fly … No “ums,” pauses, or moments of confusion. And then you have Bob Roll, or as many people like to call him Bobke. Well for people who don’t know Bob personally, his TV personality is his real-life personality (maybe even a little toned down on television). He brings such energy and vigor to the race, which I often think is lacking on other international networks! And then of course you have the entire VERSUS production crew who doesn’t get enough credit. These guys and gals work harder than anyone else, just to make sure we are prepared and everything looks great. I went inside the production truck one day and the operation they run is truly amazing. They need to do an entire show on the behind-the-scenes crew just so fans can begin to understand what goes on. So thank you to everyone at VERSUS for inviting me to be a TV analyst on your Tour de France coverage. I had a great time and have a new found appreciation and respect. I hope to have the opportunity to do it again, BUT not next year!! Next year, I want to be in the heart of the action with Team Astana!!
One last thing on the TV experience. My wife asked me the other day, “How’s it different than an interview?” … Well two major differences. (1) An interview has more of a question and answer format, whereas being a tv analyst is more like having a conversation with both questions and unprompted comments. (2) In an interview, you are usually looking directly at the person who is asking the question. As a tv analyst, you are trying to make a connection with the audience watching and will often direct your answer or comment to them, accomplished by looking directly into the camera. So you’re not only having a conversation with Craig and Bob, but also including the tv viewers.
So I think we can all agree that for not having a Team at the Tour, this has been a very busy summer. So what do I plan on doing between now and the Vuelta … Taking a vacation with Eva and Victoria. We’re going to head to the beach and just enjoy ourselves and relax. I’ll be bringing my laptop so I’ll try to write something from a beachfront cabana!!
Adios … JB