Last night I took the plunge and purchased a year's subscription to Cycling TV so I could get up at the crack of dawn to watch Paris Roubaix. After a few technical hiccups logging into the service (probably due to the volume of traffic) I settled in with Anthony McCrossan and Brian Smith for the Queen of the Classics. The video frame rate that proved stable (400 kbps) could have been higher, but I'm not complaining. I loved the unbroken coverage, much of it from the helicopter, and great footage from the Tête de Course inches off the cobbles. At times you could almost taste the dust and feel the crosswinds.
Major Tour coverage on Versus seldom gives you insight into team car dynamics. On the narrow roads of Paris Roubaix I flinched several times as cars jockeyed for position with the nerve of Nascar drivers, and at least once I'm sure there was contact. All of this frighteningly close to riders and spectators. When Hincapie flatted at 54km from the finish, I couldn't believe his skill riding between the cars that seemed oblivious to his presence.
McCrossan and Smith are a great pairing. Less effusive than Phil and Paul (who I like), and possibly more focused with fewer broadcasting distractions, they accurately kept track of riders, breaks and efforts to rejoin the peleton (Pozatto). On the few occasions where Anthony started to loose track, Brian backed him up immediately.
In the end Boonen was unstoppable, with Cancellara and Balan doing a creditable job of hiding their weakness till the final blast from big Tom. Devolder was impressive again and Hincapie hinted at what might have been by fighting back to finish ninth. The race continues to be cruel to him.
Two thumbs up for Cycling TV.
Written while watching the final round of the Masters, following Manchester United's 2-1 defeat of Arsenal. Good thing today's a designated rest day off the bike.