Column: Karl Vannieuwkerke

How do you get the information from the heart of the event during a race so quickly? It’s a common question asked by commentators. The answer is simple: Radio Tour. It provides us with continuous information during cycling races. And strangely enough: ‘Radio Tour’ is also spoken about in the classics, the Giro or the Vuelta. The acceptance of a concept often takes precedence over the logic of a name.

The frequency of the competition radio is gold for sports directors, caretakers and commentators. Via a communication system installed internally by the cycling federation, Radio Tour vomits valuable news from start to finish. It is the basis for those who have to intervene in the course or report on it. When the familiar warm voice of Marc Bollen resounds from the jury car, a feeling of tranquility descends on a commentary stand.

“The leaders covered 47 kilometers and 800 meters in the first hour of the race”, “Team Jumbo-Visma: flat tire Wout van Aert, rear wheel”, “Jayco AlUla: enough is enough!” … The lava of information also flowed towards receivers during Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Around 12.40 pm we were just about to take a bite of the sandwich supplied by RTBF when the voice of Radio Tour rose: “Chute dans le platoon! Team EF and team UAE. Chute de Mikkel Honoré and de Tadej Pogacar. Kilometers 83.5.”

We stopped eating. The intonation of the message revealed the seriousness of the situation. When Radio Tour reported that the three riders of UAE Team Emirates who awaited the super leader were running to take their place back in the peloton, we knew it wouldn’t work out. Not much later on that same Radio Tour: “Abandon de Tadej Pogacar”. A bucket of ice was poured over the heads of the commentators on the Quai des Ardennes. It seemed as if we had gone down to the final of the Champions League between Real Madrid and Liverpool and that one of the teams was forced to decide not to play after the warm-up.

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