With the Olympic Games arguably the only other pinnacle for competitive road cycling, the finest athletes in the sport will be saddling up in France once more later this month, as the historic Tour de France celebrates its 100th running between 29 June – 21 July 2013.
The event attracts viewers around the world, but no broadcaster appears to be more dedicated to ‘Le Tour’ than Eurosport, who are this year promising over 280 hours of ‘dedicated coverage’, 87 of which will be live and in HD.
The pan-European sports network (who are based in Issy-les-Moulineaux (France)) has in some regions (such as the UK) gone hand-in-hand with Tour de France coverage over recent years, and in the event’s 100th staging the channel will offer their most committed effort yet.
Alongside full live coverage and analysis (from a punditry team including Sean Kelly and Richard Virenque) of all 21 stages, Eurosport will include a 1-hour highlights programme each evening on Eurosport2, repeated the next morning on the main Eurosport channel.
Meanwhile, before the event will be a selection of specially-produced documentaries, with particular focus on looking back at the 2012 race (won by English ‘Team Sky’ rider Sir Bradley Wiggins, who will not race this time due to injury) and previewing the 2013 edition. Also commissioned is original 4-part series The Ride, following a pair of amateur cyclists who won the Eurosport ‘Conquer the Road’ competition.
The main focus, though, will be on the 3,403km race itself, which has run every year since 1903 (stopping only for the two world wars), with the centenary being celebrated by riders racing on the island of Corsica for the first time (which between 29 June – 1 July will host the ‘Grand Depart’ and opening 3 stages), and charting a route across mainland France through to the traditional final stage ending on the Champs Elysees in Paris (on 21 July), though this time will have the notable feature of concluding at night.
Set to feature plenty of innovation alongside traditional callbacks, Tour de France #100 will look to celebrate its anniversary in style, so will Eurosport’s ambitious plans do the race justice? The video selection below offers a glance back to the first race in 1903, along with highlights of 2012′s event, and a preview of 2013: