Tour de France – Art, Sport, Travelogue or Social Commentary

One of the annual broadcasts that the Australian Special Broadcasting Service does , is the Tour de France. If there is an art form that can be said to belong to the late twentieth century then it is the outside sports broadcast. The annual peak outside broadcast is the Tour de France. (The Dakar rally must come a close second.)

The sport event itself without the broadcast would only appeal to cycling fanatics. It has arcane rules. There are yellow, green, white and polka dot jerseys. All the riders there by invitation even though they are getting paid for it and there is significant prize money. It is not totally on France. Please don’t get me wrong it is a real test of physical endurance and in that respect it is a sporting event.

For me the magic is the direction of the broadcast. I have no idea who the director is but this person night after night will weave a story that will hold people for hours. The organisation that must get the credit is French Television. Part of the flavour is the countryside. The broadcast has to also capture the nuance of each region. Then there is the story of the spectators including the most famous El Diablo. This is an event that is extremely accessible, you see the camper vans all along the route where people have set up to see the race. When the race is under way, there are times when the spectators seem to be heart-stopping close to the riders.


The Tour is run by Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) . The Tour cannot be longer than 3500km and no more than two stages can be longer than 225km. I should also give credit where credit is due, ASO seem to run a flawless operation, getting the barriers in place, making sure the sponsors get value for their money etc. You did not think that the French taxpayers paid for everything did you. Amaury Sports Organisation also runs the Dakar rally.


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