By
Ross Stapleton

Fans of the world’s greatest
annual sporting event – the Tour de France, will be treated to
live coverage by SBS of all 21 stages of the race for the first
time this year. SBS’s brilliant coup has secured live
coverage
of all Tour stages for the next five years.

In
what promises to be the best ever year for Australian riders competing in
sport’s most grueling elite event, this massively upgraded commitment by SBS
is right in tune with our growing stature as a world cycling power in the
European professional road ranks.

But
if you had said at the start of the year that SBS would be doing a
Channel Nine and running into a scheduling embarrassment of riches with the
clash of two prime live sporting events, you could have flattened SBS sports
boss Les Murray with a Lance Armstrong arm band!

But
that’s exactly what’s on the agenda with some not insignificant loss of
coverage of the first four days between the second and third sessions of the
First Test at Lords – as it plays second fiddle to the cycling.

For instance
from Saturday 23 July there will be at least 95 minutes of play lost,
while on
the following night of the Tour finale the loss will be about 140
minutes. I only hope SBS gets some sympathy for
this unique log-jam of live premium sport, given it originally helped
bail
cricket out of its free-to-air misery – even if the howls from one
prime ministerial viewer go something like “where’s the cricket I
ordered?”