Veteran broadcaster Simon Brotherton has done it all on the Tour de France, except riding the tour itself.
He’s been on the beat since the 1990s and has seen massive change to how the tour is covered.
He tells City A.M. about the evolution of covering the Tour de France.
Tour de France shines
“It’s changed a lot because when we first started doing the Tour de France on the radio, obviously it had to fight for airspace – cycling still does,” Brotherton tells City A.M.
“I managed to get a lift in the car with the Cycling Weekly guys and they would drop me off about 300 yards from the finishing line and I’d go running up to the finishing line to get France Telecom to come plug me in.
“We would do the last kilometre live and hope that drive time on Five Live could time it correctly and they’d hand to me and I just shout wildly for this sprint finish.
“There’d be all this noise and chaos and excitement then I’d sort of hand back and then carry on with the news.”
“It was good fun, but it’s all changed.
“Now you will follow every metre of every stage online, whether you’re at the race or not, you can watch all of the race.
“The access in terms of the information is fantastic, it’s completely different and you’re not just there covering the event, you’re having a much greater role in analysing it afterwards, producing podcasts, getting stuff turned around and out by midday evening.
“So people who are travelling home from work can just catch up on the race as well. So there’s a lot more to it, but more coverage is a good thing.”
Publicity around these events continues to be paramount – for teams, sponsors and broadcasters – and there are always campaigns, including Skoda’s, looking to turn heads.
“[Skoda] have been a main partner of the Tour de France for a long time now.
“This year is the 20th year that they’ve sponsored the Tour de France, so whenever you go to the tour, their branding is omnipresent. It’s part of the sort of fabric, the visual fabric of the Tour de France.
“I think for anyone who follows cycling, it’s a very familiar thing and one of the things they decided to do and it actually worked really well was to take over [a] wine estate on a Sunday morning.
“We were lucky because the weather was glorious, and set up the infrastructure of a Tour de France stage finish – the barriers, race director’s vehicle parked up the top of the hill at the finish line
“And these unsuspecting cyclists were just riding up this quiet country lane.
“For the final couple of 100 metres, it’s a steep little rise up to the summit and suddenly they’re in the middle of all this Tour de France chaos and stardom.
“Some of them really embraced that and a few of them said for a few seconds, at least, they felt that they were there and that they’d actually had a taste of glory in the sunshine.
“So it was a bit of fun. Colour. And you know, it did give some of the Sunday clubs a little taste of the tour.”
Škoda has been a key partner of the Tour de France since 2004. Over 20 years, Škoda has demonstrated unwavering support for riders and fans but also contribute to the development of the cycling community.