Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Le Tour is ON!

Okay, now, wake me when we get to the mountains. These flat stages are about as exciting as watching Phil and Paul narrate paint drying.

More interesting than the stages to me at this point, though, are the commercials. Say what? Well, I've got the Tour in the background, and I hear a kinda familiar accent talking about a really fast bike. Afirst I think they've got some kind of interview going on, but then the guy says, "I am Tom Boonen, and I am Specialized." It's a Specialized commercial. There's another one featuring World / Olympic / Italian champ Paolo Bettini, and some Cervelo commercials featuring Fabian Cancellara and Stuart O'Grady. I think I heard some other commercials for cycling-type products, too.

Why is this interesting? You target television commercials towards the audiences likely to be watching those programs, right? Well, that's the idea, but I watched the tour in 2005 and 2006 on Versus (nee OLN), and all I saw was that "Saab, born from jets*, (production of saab aircraft and vehicles are no longer related)" crap. Two years of tour viewing, not one bicycle commerical. I mean, you'd think with carbon-fiber repli-racers costing as much as a cheap car, you'd think you'd want to target some advertising in the direction of the one per cent of the population that might actually drop the scratch for one. Of all television programs that potential expensive-bicycle buyers are likely to be watching, I mean, come on. What's the one program they are all likely to watch? Tour. De. France.

Heck, I even tried to stream the thing on RAI.IT, and it blocks me out. I guess I have to be in Italia...

Speaking of the Tour, I wanted to talk about something I noticed about climbers, sprinters, and victory salutes. When you win race, it's become tradition to celebrate your victory with a little show. Auto racers do big burnous and donuts, and bike racers take their hands off the bars and salute. Sprinters tend to get a lot of practice doing this, check out some pictures I nabbed from Alessandro Petacchi, who'd be fighting it out right now in the tour if he hadn't huffed down too many asthma meds:

Most sprinter salutes look like this: arms in the air, eyes forward, palms outward or fists clenched. You can usually see the adrenaline pumping through them; they look intense, angry, sometimes elated.

Here's Danilo Napolitano:

When you see climbers win races, though, it's entirely different. They look like they're coming out of a trance. They look to the heavens, they cover their faces with their hands. They drop their arms loosely to the side, or they spread them, palms down, like wings. Alejandro Valverde's now-famous beating of Lance Armstrong in 2005. I hadn't heard of this guy when I watched the Tour for the first time, and I was all set for big Tex to take 'em all down. No dice:

And, last year, Polka-Dot Rasmussen

Bike racing -- especially in the Grand Tours -- is unique in the way it caters to different types of athlete, different body types and talents, and tosses them all into the same race, even if they are competing for different prizes. It'd be like taking a race track and putting Top Fuel dragsters alongside NASCAR stock cars against Formula One cars. It's funny that the way that victory is celebrated is as distinct as the way they ride.


  • At 5:52 AM , Anonymous cruzer2424 said...

    very nice observation. i never noticed it before.

  • At 11:24 AM , Blogger Chris said...

    Greetings from Specialized HQ - we were pretty excited to get to create and broadcast these commercials, glad you think we made the right choice (it's a lot of cash, but there's nothing like it). If you're interested, they're also now on youTube and our own websites. Cheers!

  • At 8:52 PM , Blogger Argentius said...

    Thanks chris,

    To your credit, someone reminded me that you did run some commercials in 2006 -- the ones where the guys were running around trying to interview Levi Leipheimer, when he was with Specialized-equipped Gerolsteiner? Those were funny.

  • At 9:42 PM , Anonymous Frances said...

    There will come a time when you'll need to either have your vehicle checked for repairs or perhaps give it a new paint job and for both of these, you could trust the expertise of the guys from


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