Grey Sky Thinking

Sky Pro Cycling – a super slick, professional, cutting edge, massively successful (although not in the Classics), innovative, well-funded, expertly managed pro cycling team which has transformed the sport. Sky – satellite or cable TV channel offering 7 (count ‘em) sports channels (plus endless movies) which has transformed television sport and is (arguably) responsible for the English Premier League becoming (arguably) the best and wealthiest football league in the world. A match made in heaven which goes together like a cleat on a pedal should surely produce the best, most innovative and exciting cycling on television, shouldn’t it? Er…no. Sky has just launched Bike – great name – (channel 464 on Sky) and it is possibly the dullest, dreariest, most pedestrian collection of cycling programmes that it is possible to imagine. It’s easy to fill a channel with 24 hour programming; you just show the same programme over and over again and this is what Bike 24 is doing. Where are the iconic films – Breaking Away, American Flyers, The Flying Scotsman, Bicycle Thieves, The Death of Marco Pantani,  Rising from Ashes, The Program, A Sunday in Hell? Not on Sky. Where are the greats of the sport – Coppi, Bartali, Anquetil, Charly Gaul, etc – in shaky black and white film? Not on Sky. Where are the historical documentaries – Tom Simpson, Robert Millar, Robert Penn’s ‘It’s all about the Bike?’ Not on Sky. Where are the re-runs of Tour de France coverage with Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen eviscerating the English language and singing the praises of Lance Armstrong? Not on Sky. Where are Chris Boardman or Alex Dowsett or Bradley Wiggins breaking the hour record or Greg Lemond beating Laurent Fignon by 8 seconds or Eddy Merckx or Bernard Hinault doing anything? Not on Sky. Where are the documentaries on great climbs – Sa Calobra, Ventoux, Tourmalet, Galibier, Stelvio? Not on Sky. Where are the behind the scenes films about the Death Star (the Sky coach), the interviews with Dave Brailsford, the exposes of Bjarne Riis or Floyd Landis, the inside dope (no pun intended) on Marcel Kittel’s move to Etixx, a documentary on Germain Burton and his dad Maurice? Not on Sky. Instead we have a pleasant but not overly attractive youngish lady called Filippa riding around Italy and having painful dubbed conversations with worthy Italians about cycle paths, filmed like a 70s porno (or so I’m told), a documentary about mountain biking in Australia and a magazine format programme called Incycle. Repeated. Repeated. And repeated. And in case you missed it – guess what? Repeated. In the museum of missed opportunities this has to rank as one of the best ever exhibits. Come on Sir Dave! If you have any influence at all, sort this out now! Otherwise you may find that people don’t just stop watching Sky; they also stop watching Sky Pro Cycling. Hopefully this will all change and when the season starts we will all be treated to 24/7 top quality, gold-plated cycling telly and spend all our days glued to the box instead of riding our bikes; but for now; anyone see the Chelsea match? Or Madagascar?

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