According to www.sportcal.com (spotter: bikemagic.com) Channel 4 has apologised to British cycling fans disappointed at the broadcaster's erratic and inconvenient scheduling of this year's Tour de France.
David Kerr, the channel's editor of sport, was reported to have said that as a general channel it is sometimes difficult to provide comprehensive sports coverage without alienating other viewers.
He added that the channel had made a huge commitment to sport, so perhaps the new Channel 4 coverage of Test match cricket has bumped the Tour coverage?
But that doesnt make sense because Channel 4 still have to pay independent production company VTV to film the worlds biggest annual sporting event so its a scheduling problem not a cash one.
The Société du Tour de France, the race organiser and television rights holder of the event, is said to be surprised and disappointed to learn of Channel 4's late and erratic scheduling. However, it stressed that it was a matter for individual broadcasters to choose when to show race highlights.
Sportcal. com quoted bike journo William Fotheringham saying that cycling has been an audience winner in the past for Channel 4, but has become a sport solely for those with video recorders. He suggested that the channel should take a serious look at its coverage of the Tour de France, one of its signature sports.
So, if youre disappointed at the Channel 4 coverage yet dont have access to Eurosport but still want daily coverage of Le Tour you can get your fix online.
www.letour.com has minute by minute race coverage text beamed direct to your WAP phone. http://wap.letour.com/.../index.wml.
And for regular surfers theres also a minute-by-minute service. An example from this morning is given below.
This site also carries a daily interview with the stage winner from every stage of the race. Tune in to the broadcast about 1 hour after the stage finish to see the post-race press conference. For race times check out www.letour.com.
13H02 - Dekker's Lead 7"
At the 8km mark, Dekker's lead is just 7 seconds.
13H01 - Dekker Tries Again
Erik Dekker (Rabobank), who was involved in a long break in stage two, has attacked the peloton. There is no time check on the Dutch rider at this stage.
12H59 - Break Over...
At the 6th kilometer the escape attempt by Raedelli and Cassini has been foiled by a fast-moving peloton. The peloton is now all back together.
12H58 - 10" Lead At 5km
The break of Raedelli and Cassani has an advantage over the peloton of 10" at the 5km mark.
12H57 - Bettini's Break Over
Mapei's Bettini is already back in the peloton. The two escapees are now 12" clear.
12H56 - Bettini Now Chasing
With the two early escapees now at 20", there is a counter-attack from Paolo Bettini.
12H56 - First Attack!
The first attack of the day has come at the 3rd kilometer. There are two riders clear with an advantage of 12". They are Enrico Cassani (Polti) and Mauro Radaelli (Vini Caldirola).
12H51 - Racing!
The fifth stage has officially begun. The start-proper of the 202km journey from Vannes to Vitre began at 12.48pm. There are 177 riders still in the Tour de France.
12H49 - Race Goes Through 'Hinault Country' Today
The 202km fifth stage will be raced on the roads of Brittany. This cycling-mad region of France boasts the birth place of five-time Tour winner, Bernard Hinault. The third climb today - the Cote de Calorguen (at 119km) - is right near the town in which Hinault now lives.
12H44 - Riders Are In The Neutral Zone
The 5th stage is due to begin any minute now. The riders are currently in the neutral zone.