Well, it’s that time of year again. A little after Wimbledon and just before the MLB pennant races heat up, a lot of people with foreign wear spandex and race bicycles crazy fast up and down mountains in a far away land we love to visit almost as much as Fox News loves to criticize. Beginning today in Rotterdam and ending three weeks later in Paris, it’s the Tour de France.
Over the next three weeks, we’ll be writing race commentary, explanation and interpretation of both the race and the ratings. Don’t know a “domestique” from a demo rating? Stick with us to learn about the race — and its media and marketing impact.
Whitey Chapin offers this preview of what to expect when the race’s first 9 km stage kicks off in Rotterdam on Saturday:
Saturday July 3, 2010 –Lance Armstrong has certainly created even more drama with his recent announcement that this year’s Tour de France would be his last. Winning the Tour one more time has been Lance’s goal over the past year. From daily training to racing in competitions ranging from the Tour of Luxembourg to the Tour of Switzerland, Lance Armstrong devotes 12 months a year to being on the podium in Paris.
Armstrong’s influence dominates the Versus cable network, which signed on for cycling coverage years ago based primarily on Lance’s popularity. Similarly, RadioShack created and sponsored a full cycling team solely for Lance Armstrong’s pursuit of another Tour de France title.
RadioShack’s new team was formed a year ago after Armstrong’s one-year association with Team Astana. Lance had returned to cycling after several years off following his record 7 victories at the Tour de France. Team Astana signed Lance on, but there was immediate conflict with teammate Alberto Contador. Last year at the Tour, Contador won the race (his second title), as Armstrong finished 3rd in his return. The team was divided as Contador rode away from the pack for the victory against the team’s directions on how the race should proceed.
Versus achieved superlative results in last year’s Tour with Armstrong versus the year before without him. TV delivery was up 134%, and online impressions were up 117%. RadioShack stated publicly that their goal in sponsoring Lance’s cycling team was to both launch a new creative platform and to further support cancer causes and Lance’s Livestrong charity.
So here we are in 2010 with the reputations of Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador, Versus and Radio Shack ready to be recast again. Ratings are sure to go up again. From a marketing perspective, while there are 198 riders who will race in the Tour, there are only two who matter.