Posts Tagged ‘Eurosport’

Skwinge when you’re winning, Skoyens before you’ve won

June 1, 2015
Embed from Getty Images

At the recent Tour of California, a 23-year-old Latvian (pictured above) briefly lead the race after taking a solo victory on stage three. Before he won, his name was “Skoyens”; afterwards, he was referred to as “Skwinge”.

Apparently Eurosport’s commentators spoke to a couple of Toms Skujins’ countrymen after his victory to get the correct pronunciation, and Skwinge was the result. Latvia is hardly known for its sense of humour, but I suspect those two Latvians did their bit to change that.

There’s been a nasty outbreak of pronunciationitis recently. In the weird world of TV commentary, As-TA-na has transmogrified into ASS-ta-NAR, which is surely now cycling’s equivalent of Hyacinth Boo-KAY. The chap who was talking over the Giro d’Italia for Eurosport constantly referred to Eh-LEE-ya Viviani, as if we would have been scratching our heads if he stuck with broadcasting tradition and referred to riders by their surnames. And in the otherwise excellent Telegraph Cycling Podcast, the flow of conversation is briefly stymied whenever one of the presenters pulls the other up on how to say “Michal Kwiatkowski”. Meanwhile, to my untrained ears, it seems no one is that bothered about pronouncing Dutch or Flemish names correctly, even though Belgium and the Netherlands have had a far greater role in cycling culture than Latvia or Kazakhstan.

I think UK Cycling Expert offers a lesson here. There are two broad reasons why we chuckle when he refers to Zdenek Stybar as Zebedee Sidecar. The first is that there is something in the phonetic alchemy of those words that sound funny when they’re put together. The second is that we like getting names wrong. It’s a British tradition. In a similar way to the British First World War soldiers who mispronounced Ypres for their satirical magazine the Wipers Times, we like to make our own fun. So don’t tell us what we should be saying, even if you happen to be right.

I doubt whether pronouncing a rider’s name differently to how his mother says it would cause him offence anyway. And although broadcast professionals are well-meaning and probably correct, they’re fighting against the tide of time. Does anyone really think that our grandchildren, looking at the yellowed pages of a cycling magazine, would see the name emblazoned across a garish greeny-blue jersey and pronounce the first syllable in the same way that an American would say “arse”?

The obvious point here is that with so many languages involved in professional cycling it is impossible to pronounce all of them correctly. This being the case, my advice to any English-speaking broadcaster is to follow the Roy Walker rule: say what you see. Because aiming for authenticity is truly Skwingeworthy.

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The DYNAMITE! Five: the month in cycling, remixed. February 2013

February 28, 2013

5 UP The Pope
God moves in mysterious ways – so it could have been divine inspiration that prompted an inquisitive journalist to ask Marcel Kittel, “Did the Pope’s resignation give you extra motivation?” following the young German’s victory in the opening stage of the Tour of Oman. Commentator Matt Keenan reports that the question “was met with bemused silence”. Maybe the heat had got to the unnamed hack – or he thought the relatively little-known early season race was called The Tour Of Amen. It’s an easy mistake to make.

4 UP Osen
This little-known Rapha rip-off, spotted by former Perren Streeter Luke Scheybeler, could do with a viral marketing campaign if they want to make their Korean brand a No.1 hit in the UK. How about a pop video of a dapper loon doing an exuberant dance which mimics riding a bike with one hand? Chaingang-nam style. Over to you, Luke. Op, op, op!

3 DOWN Cycling to school
“It would be a national scandal if a school situated within view of the 2012 Box Hill Olympic cycling race introduced a policy that forces pupils into cars.” Well, it should be a scandal, but apparently it isn’t, despite concerned parent James Harvey’s eloquent summation of the decision by North Downs Primary School to ban pupils cycling or walking to two of its sites because of the perceived danger. Memo to Surrey County Council: if the roads really are that dangerous, then maybe you should be targeting motorists instead.

2 DOWN The Guardian
Taking up the cause of his chums in the US who are, like, totally pissed that Lance Armstrong is now using Strava, the Guardian’s Matt Seaton writes: “Of any segment of the American public, this is probably the community that is best-informed, cares most about clean cycling, and feels most betrayed by Armstrong’s cheating.” To which non-Stravistas might respond to the adoptive American’s buddies: relax, er, ‘dudes’. He won’t be using any of Dr Ferrari’s Special Sauce this time. Strava is the one ‘race’ Armstrong can win without doping and, in a just world, he should have been sequestered to it a long time ago. If he doesn’t end up in chokey, getting mired in an online willy-waving ‘King of the Mountains’ purgatory could be the next best thing…

sean yates at hillingdon winter series 2013 3rd cat race
1 UP Sean Yates
Meanwhile, back in Matt’s homeland, an altogether more tolerant attitude to the EPO era was on display when an alleged friend of the infamous Motoman decided to slum it in the lowly 3rd cat race at the penultimate fixture of the Hillingdon Winter Series. Sean Yates (yes, that’s him above on the Team Sky Pinarello, and there are more pics here) was given a warm welcome, which is more than can be said for Eurosport’s Tony Gibb, who was ejected from the series for bollocking his fellow competitors. First Lance, now Tony – who can we believe in anymore?

Kirby goes bananas

April 29, 2012

“Hey – did you see that flat finish at the Tour of Turkey?” This, I am fairly confident, is a question that had never before passed the lips of even the most obsessive cycling fan. But that was before this year’s penultimate stage, which yesterday provided the most dramatic and chortlesome final kilometres of the season so far, thanks in no small part to the somewhat enthusiastic approach of Eurosport’s Carlton Kirby.

With the peloton destined to catch the six-man leading group, Omega Pharma’s Iljo Keisse escaped and hammered out a lead of 31 seconds on the bunch going into the final kilometre. Then, with the stage his for the taking, the Belgian fell off on a tight right-hander – and lost even more time by remounting without realising that his ruddy chain had come off. Gah!

Kirby’s reaction to Keisse’s misfortune is a glorious, unrestrained minute-and-a-half OMG-gasm which no sports fan with an ounce of passion in their hearts can fail to warm to. Who cares if all attempts at impartiality are thrown out of the commentator’s box with the throaty yelp: “C’MON, KEISSE, FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE!” And who cares if he misreads the race twice (once on the aerial shot as the bunch take the right-hander, the second time a few metres from the line)? Kirby channeled the viewer’s amazement and excitement, which in that sort of situation is what great sports commentary is all about.

And this was only the Tour of flippin’ Turkey! Imagine what this guy could do over three weeks in July. C’MON, EUROSPORT BOSSES, FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE!

The DYNAMITE! Five: The week in cycling, remixed. Issue #19

September 30, 2011

5 UP Tim Vine
“See these Icebreakers? Don’t work. Tried to use one to start a conversation and the guy just walked away.” Boom, and indeed, tish! And so, with a chortlesome quip about a high-end brand of merino base layer, comedian Tim Vine began a short routine at the Pearson Performance store on Friday evening which united the two aspects of life most precious to this blog: cycling and light-hearted wordplay. Hurrah! The one-liner wonderman, who is a childhood chum of owners Will and Guy, made our week with his puntastic appearance in East Sheen, although we’re not going to quote the rest of his routine: this is our blog, and we make the jokes around here (even though they are sub-standard by comparison).

4 UP Newreaders
Staying at the launch of the excellent new Pearson store, one interesting nugget that we picked up which may already be common knowledge among the bikerati is that ITV’s Dermot Murnaghan and Matt Barbet of Channel 5 fame regularly go out riding together. Two TV anchormen, sat next to each other on their bikes, talking away for hours: you know what they probably get up to, don’t you? The pair of them (in The DYNAMITE! Files’ head, anyway) chat to each other as if they’re doing a news broadcast, live from the hills of Surrey. Let’s turn on the vivid HDTV of our imagination and watch… “Good afternoon and thanks for joining us. Coming up: a tight left-hander. Over now to Matt Barbet. Matt, tell us what’s happening.” “Thanks, Dermot. We’re getting unconfirmed reports of a major pothole. Oof! Yes, I can now confirm a pothole has been encountered. Back to you, Dermot.” And so on, for the course of 70 to 100 miles. Possibly.

3 DOWN David Harmon
Still at the launch night of Pearson Performance (can you tell this blog doesn’t get out much?) we were disappointed that the World Championships prevented Eurosport commentator and Richmond Park regular David Harmon from attending. One Pearson partygoer reckons the man behind the mic sounds a little different when off-air and isn’t immediately recognisable, so we had a great way to identify him should he have turned up: “accidentally” drop a glass of bubbly and wait for the one person in the room to say: “Oh no! There’s been a crash! Oh, disaster! This is terrible!” Would’ve worked a treat. Maybe next time, eh?

2 UP Pat McQuaid
The Dalai Lama. Barack Obama. Nelson Mandela. Men of character and wisdom, whose achievements are so great that they truly deserve to have an in-depth 15,000-word feature written about them in a publication of record. And now you can add, er, Pat McQuaid to that august list, because the UCI president is the subject of a Grand Tour-sized question-and-answer session in the forthcoming issue of (what else?) Rouleur. It’s all in there: the Armstrong donations, the accusations of nepotism and why, despite what any of us may think, it’s apparently quite important to have a WorldTour race in China. But perhaps the most intriguing revelation is that Uncle Pat used to lurk on internet forums to see what cycling fans have been saying about him. BikeRadar: your hotline to Aigle. Who would have thought?


1 UP Mark Cavendish, Champion Of The World
It’s something you probably never thought you’d see: “Peta, 24, from Essex”, purportedly quoting Goethe on page three of The Sun as she analyses the euro bailout (“Everything in the world may be endured, except continued prosperity,” apparently). Meanwhile, tucked away on page 62 of the same newspaper, there was a brief report on her boyfriend – someone called Mark Cavendish – being crowned cycling’s world road race champion, making him the first Brit to win the men’s title in 46 years. So judging by the difference in column inches between Cav and his girlfriend in Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper, it would appear that the giddy dream posited by an excitable question from the BBC – “Could cycling become the UK’s second-favourite sport?” – is a long way from becoming a reality. But let’s look at it another way: how, you may ask, is the question in any way relevant? Does the popularity of a sport automatically make it more successful or interesting? Because anyone who saw Sunday’s thrilling race in Copenhagen or read Richard Williams’ analysis in the Guardian would realise that British riders are now officially amazing – super-strong, tactically astute and ruddy fast – and they became brilliant while the majority of the British public wasn’t paying any attention. Which makes their achievement all the more special, doesn’t it?

The DYNAMITE! Five: The Tour de France, remixed. Issue #10

July 29, 2011

5 DOWN “Ablerto” Contador
It was the Tour where he revealed himself to be a mere mortal – but before Cadel and the Schlecks humbled him at high altitude, Alberto Contador’s godlike status seemed unimpeachable, particularly to the subeditors over at the Daily Telegraph. The penultimate paragraph of Brendan Gallagher’s pre-Pyrenees assessment refers to Bertie as “He” rather than “he”, and in keeping with each of the Gospels giving slightly differing accounts of the same events, the quotes from the man himself appear to be somewhat repetitive (“The stage went well, and that’s good news for my knee […] The stage went well, and that’s good news for my knee.”) And God only knows why he’s referred to as “Ablerto” in the picture caption. Heavens above!

4 UP (too far up) Shorts
The drama of stage nine, which saw plucky Thomas Voeckler take yellow after a car walloped Johnny Hoogerland into a barbed wire fence, overshadowed a far more serious development: shorts are becoming far too short. The two breakaway men have been sporting the high-up-the-thigh look for a while now, with Hoogerland eliciting an “ooh-look-at-you” stare from Riccardo Riccò back in January, and Voeckler’s appearance causing a teammate to bite his lip at the Tour’s opening ceremony. But now they’re bloody heroes, so expect to see your more impressionable mates wearing the sort of shorts that would make a speed skater blush. Oh, the indignity…

Courtesy of the lip-smacking cyclinginquisition.com


3 UP Nicknames
Some say “Bo-AH-son Hagen”, others “BWA-son Hagen”, whereas Mrs Dynamite, referencing the sort of films young Edvald’s home region is perhaps most famous for, prefers to pronounce it “Boobs-and-hard-on”. That always gets a laugh in our famous soundproof bunker, although it’s obviously far too rude to become common currency among less rakish cycling fans. Similarly, her name for a certain high-shorted Dutchman – “Johnny Sexylegs” – is unlikely to catch on now that the horrific image of his lacerated pins is indelibly etched on everyone’s mind. But The DYNAMITE! Files thinks it has stumbled on a nickname for Thomas Voeckler that can sit next to modern classics such as “Cuddles” and “SMASH”. The little Frenchman licked his lips en route to taking yellow, got a bit mouthy with Hoogerland’s Dutch fans booing him on Alpe d’Huez, and he has a quintessentially Gallic gob shape, so The DYNAMITE! Files shall henceforth refer to him as… Le Mighty Bouche.

2 UP Viewing figures
Terrible news for anyone still hoping that the Tour de France would remain a weird, esoteric sporting event: watching grown men suffer for three weeks has apparently become a ratings hit, with UK figures for the final stage almost equalling its 1980s Channel Four heyday. Snobs looking to defect to another pain-filled sport may want to try The Spartan Race, which apparently involves running through flames and tugging a boulder on a rope. Like, epic!

1 DOWN The points competition
As you might expect, this blog is overjoyed that Mark Cavendish, our favourite tweeting cycleperson, has finally claimed the emerald prize that should have been his two years ago. But as for the concept of the green jersey itself… well, it’s great that the competition is now weighted in favour of winning stages, but you can’t make intermediate sprints any less uninteresting by renaming them super intermediate sprints and throwing a few more points at them. And let’s be honest: how many fans actually know the number of points up for grabs in a stage anyway? It seems perverse that the competition featuring the fastest, most thrilling finishes should rely on a dull, arcane number-crunching system to decide the winner. So here’s a radical idea: ditch the intermediate sprints altogether, give the maillot vert to the rider who wins the most sprint stages, and call it the Stage Winners’ Jersey. If there’s a tie, the rider who has consistently finished the highest wins. Otherwise, the points competition is, well, a bit pointless.

The DYNAMITE! Five: The week in cycling, remixed. Issue #2

April 15, 2011

5 DOWN Universal Sports
Tired of waiting for the sporting authorities to decide whether Alberto Contador is a naughty boy? Then look no further than Universal Sports. According to a trailer, all you need to do is watch its forthcoming coverage of the Giro and the answer will magically reveal itself to you. Coming next on Universal: did a certain footballer really do all that business with a lady of the night? Watch how he kicks a football to somehow work it out.

5 UP Alans
He has suffered many indignities in the course of his long and undistinguished career – and now the present host of Mid-Morning Matters on North Norfolk Digital has been trumped by Alan Titchmarsh on a peculiar set of Allen keys which feature on the mighty Bianchista’s blog. Has the chirpy gardener ever shot a man live on air or put his foot through a spike? Then why, in comparison with Alan Partridge, is Titchmarsh the, er, bigger tool? At least we can all agree it is only right that Tim Allen gets the tiniest key because he’s not British and “Allen” is only his middle name. The fraud.

3 UP Round stays

Following on from the world’s first laser-fused nylon frame and last week’s wooden SRAM-equipped bike from Audi comes another staggering innovation in bicycle technology: two huge rings in place of seat and chain stays. Riding a gigantic Venn diagram has a certain novelty, even though its Canadian inventor Lou Tortola appears to be unwilling – or unable – to guide the thing in a straight line. Loopy.

2 UP Dangerous cycling
Instead of wading into the hoo-ha created by the proposals for a new Dangerous and Reckless Cycling Bill instigated by Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom, The DYNAMITE! Files would like to maintain its reputation as a wholly unbiased media outlet by directing our inquisitive readership to the excellent Bagehot in the Economist and the Guardian’s Erin Gill, who respectively argue the cases for and against the legislation more persuasively than other commentators. Or if you really prefer to be irked, then pop over to the BBC News magazine, which bizarrely claims: “There is little that divides UK public opinion more sharply than cyclists.” Except for, say, Iraq, Afghanistan, tuition fees, the efficacy of following horoscopes, the imminent return of Big Brother, the existence or not of a supreme omnipotent being, global warming and just about every topic that comes up daily on a Jeremy Vine phone-in.

1 UP Johan Vansummeren
One of this blog’s few proud moments took place during Eurosport’s coverage of last year’s Tour de France when we made David Harmon chuckle by suggesting lanky Belgian Johan Vansummeren should be nicknamed Johan Van Somersault for his less-than-graceful exit down the time trial ramp in Bordeaux. Sadly, that comic moment will soon vanish from fans’ memories now that the gangly Garminator has won Paris-Roubaix, heroically crossing the line with a flat tyre and then immediately proposing to his girlfriend. The cry of “FABEEAAN!” from someone in the crowd which greeted the victor as he entered the velodrome on Sunday sounded very much like Sylvester Stallone’s anguished wail of “ADREEAAN!” in Rocky, and its tone summed up The DYNAMITE Files’ despair at realising the world won’t get a victory tweet written in Fablish, as well as the realisation that our mildly amusing nickname for Vansummeren will now be erased from history. Never mind, because as this belter of a photo shows, he’s earned a better one: No Hands Vansummeren. That, chums, is taking the well-worn phrase “floating over the cobbles” to the next level.