TV SportsNo rest for wearyRiders will get breaks, but TV crew will be on the go for Tour of California
By John Maffei, (San Diego) North County Times
All times are Pacific)
The riders will get a chance to rest.
But the crew covering on the fourth annual Tour of California on Versus will be sleep deprived over the race's nine days, starting with Saturday's Prologue in Sacramento to the final Rancho Bernardo-to-Escondido stage on Feb. 22.
Versus, which is available in 73 million homes across the country, has 42 1/2 hours of live and same-day cycling coverage planned for the 750-mile race.
The majority of the live coverage is at 2 p.m. with replays at 8 p.m.
But the race, which rolls from Davis to Santa Rosa, Sausalito to Santa Cruz, Visalia to Paso Robles, Santa Clarita to Pasadena and Rancho Bernardo to Escondido, presents problems for Versus producer Joel Felicio.
"For baseball or football in stadiums, the camera positions are set up far in advance," Felicio said. "The crew goes in ahead of the event and tests out camera positions.
"In cycling, there is no set up. The crew is on the move every day.
"We're up late the night before preparing highlights and features. And we're up early to prepare for that day's stage.
"There are so many good restaurants in California, so much good food. But we usually end up eating gas-station sandwiches on the way to the next stage."
Felicio will have eight cameras available to him ---- two in helicopters, four on motorcycles and two fixed cameras at the finish line of each stage.
The ground shots are fed to the helicopters and all the shots are beamed to the production truck where Felicio and his crew are stationed.
"The helicopters are up for five hours, but not all at one time," Felicio said. "They have to refuel and we often run into restricted air space.
"In theory, we always have one helicopter in the air, but that's in theory."
Felicio is a veteran of the Tour de France, a race that gets first-class, worldwide coverage.
That hasn't been the case for the first three Tour of California races.
That will change this year.
"To my knowledge, this is the first live American cycling event on TV," Felicio said. "So we're going to do everything we can to do it well."
There are things TV can't control, however.
Weather is one of those.
Snow on the peaks or a storm that would limit the ability of the helicopters to fly would be a major setback.
"The race people have the ability to revise the course in case of weather," Felicio said. "In that case, they can go to Plan B. Then we have to adjust, too."
The race announcers, including Paul Sherwen ---- who has been called "the undisputed voice of cycling" ---- call the race from the production truck.
"We call the race off what we see on our monitors," Sherwen said. "But we have access to the referees radio, so we hear all that is going on.
"We really don't get to check out the course, except for maybe the last 30 miles or so.
"Sadly, we don't get to see much of California because we're up early to set up, call the race, then pack up and drive to the next stage, usually in the dark."
With people like Felicio and Sherwen working the race, viewers won't be in the dark.
"I've been doing cycling since 1997 and the Tour de France since 2001," Felicio said. "My crew lives, breathes and eats cycling.
"I was into baseball and there are a lot of similarities between baseball and cycling.
"People think both sports are slow, but not if you present it well.
"The difference is baseball will have some exciting, last-minute finishes once in a while. In cycling, most stages come down to the last 100 meters, and we'll have it all covered."
< With Lance Armstrong, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer and dozens of other top riders included in the 140-man field, Sherwen said, "This is the best field for a U.S. race since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta."
"Even without Lance, this would be a good race," Sherwen said. "It has been increasing in popularity over the years. The races like California, so word of mouth has brought in a really good field.
"This used to be kind of a Northern California race, ending in the L.A. area.
"Now it includes San Diego and there are some difficult climbs on the final state. So I'm looking forward to a dramatic finish."
< To augment the race coverage, Felicio plans features on Armstrong, Landis and Mark Cavendish, among others. "We need to tell good stories in addition to covering the race," Felicio said. "We want to peek into their lives, build up the characters. We want to introduce the personalities into the race, explain a little about the strategies ---- drafting, the team concept. We have to do more than just give a great visual of the race, although that's a big key."All-Star scoop
TNT is the destination for this weekend's NBA All-Star coverage.
The game tips off at 5:30 p.m. Sunday from Phoenix with Marv Albert Doug Collins and Reggie Miller the announcers. The pregame show starts a 5 p.m.
The game, however, is the culmination of nine hours of coverage leading up to Sunday.
Tonight at 6, it's the Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam, featuring rookies like Brook Lopez, O.J. Mayo and Greg Oden against sophomores like Kevin Durant and Al Horford.
Saturday's coverage starts at 2 p.m. with Durant, Mayo and Joe Johnson playing a game of H.O.R.S.E. Following that, it's NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Theater (a review of past contests), Shooting Stars (a shooting competition featuring NBA and WNBA players), Skills Challenge (players running through an obstacle course) and 3-point Shootout (featuring Mike Bibby, Daequan Cook, Danny Granger, Jason Kapono, Rashard Lewis and Roger Mason). The evening concludes with the Slam Dunk contest, featuring Rudy Fernandez, Dwight Howard, Nate Robinson and J.R. Smith.
< ESPN has the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at 4 p.m. today. Celebrities scheduled to play include Chris Tucker, Terrell Owens, Zachary Levi, Donald Faison, James Denton and Michael Rapaport as well as basketball players Clyde Drexler, Dominique Wilkins, Dan Majerle, Rick Fox, Lisa Leslie, Kara Lawson and members of the Harlem Globetrotters.
< According to "Sports Business Daily", TNT plans to bring Charles Barkley back to its NBA studio show soon after Sunday's All-Star Game. Barkley has been on a leave of absence after a Dec. 31 arrest where he was accused of drunken driving. Barkley has been with TNT since 2000.
< Arizona, with former La Costa Canyon High Star Chase Budinger, hosts UCLA in a 10 a.m. game Saturday on CBS. USC is at Arizona State at 7 p.m. Sunday on FSN.
< ESPNU announced the game for its "BracketBusters" games to be played Feb. 20 and 21. USD, which was on the original schedule, has been dropped.
There are two games Feb. 20 and 11 on Feb. 21, starting at 8 a.m. and ending with George Mason at Creighton at 6:30 p.m.
< The surging San Diego State women's team is at Wyoming for a 1 p.m. game Sunday on the mtn.Calling all cars
< The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series goes full throttle this weekend with Fox's coverage of the Daytona 500. Fox, which has the first 13 races of the NASCAR season, will use Mike Joy as its race announcer along with analysts Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond.
< TNT has the middle six races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series while ESPN/ABC has the final 17 races.
< ESPN2 has flag-to-flag coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Camping World 300 at Daytona at 9 a.m. Saturday. Dr. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree are the lead announcers. ESPN2 is the home of the Nationwide Series with selected races on ESPN and ABC.
Proving that football is king, last Sunday's NFL Pro Bowl on NBC drew a 5.8 rating with 4.5 million viewers while the titanic Lakers-Cavaliers NBA game on ABC did a 5.0 rating with 3.8 million viewers. The Pro Bowl was down 16 percent from last year while the NBA game was up 72 percent from last year's Lakers-Magic game in the same time slot.
< The PGA Tour's Buick Open from Torrey Pines last week, drew a 2.1 rating with 1.6 million viewers on CBS. Without Tiger Woods, that rating was down 54 percent from last year.
< Proving that Notre Dame has lost its national magic, last Saturday's Notre Dame-UCLA men's college basketball game on CBS did an 0.8 rating with 616,000 viewers. That's down 50 percent from last year's Boston College-Duke game in the same time slot.Around the dial
< Looking for something different Sunday? How about the the Red Bull Snowscrappers at 2 p.m. on NBC, a snowboard competition where 16 professionals, including North County's Shaun White, Pat Moore and Travis Rice, compete along the New York City skyline with $100,000 prize money at stake.
< CBS' coverage of the PGA Tour's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, includes 17th-tee interviews Saturday by Gary McCord with celebrities like Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, Justin Timberlake, Huey Lewis, Bill Murray, Ray Romano, Kevin James, George Lopez, Greg Kinnear, Andy Garcia and Chris O'Donnell. The network's coverage starts at noon Saturday and Sunday.
< CBS has coverage of the AMA Supercross Series from Qualcomm Stadium at 9 a.m. Sunday with the 250cc race. SPEED has the 125cc race at 3 p.m. Sunday.
< The Golf Channel and the LPGA Tour have agreed to a 10-year partnership that will make the network the exclusive cable home of the women's pro tour beginning in 2010.http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2009...5b0080131c.txt