France Télévisions covers Le Tour
France: Another year, another unpredictable Tour, with Cadel Evans the surprise winner of the malliot jaune. Far less surprising is that France Télévisions managed once more to deliver some astonishing coverage of every wheel-turn of the 3430.5km race.
“To cover the race, we use five camera bikes plus two Wescam helicams, as well as an onboard camera in the car of the race director. This is combined with cameras at the finish line, the start, and sometimes more at the departure village. The number varies depending on the configurations, but we usually use 10 to 15 cameras,” comments Production Director, Yves Dumond.
As host broadcaster, France Télévisions used a team of almost 300 people to cover the race. An OB truck from the production division in Lille produced the international signal, as well as the national private signal for France2/France3. This truck equipped with 10 HD cameras, including a slow motion camera, plus three cameras for the France Télévisions private signal, was sited at each stage finish in order to ensure coverage of the last kilometre of the race and the podium. Another truck produced all the broadcasts for France2 and France3.
Moving all this kit around France overnight is a constant challenge, necessitating police escorts down from the mountain stage finishes. According to Dumond, trucks are normally in situ by 5am and remain on site till approximately 21.00. Despite this, he says that the main challenges are in the cities and in the parts of the race where they have to add additional equipment, such as this year’s traverse of the col du Galibier.
“It is a technical and human challenge,” he says. “The human part is very important because fatigue and weather variables can contribute to increased irritability of staff. We have to ensure that this will go well, including [taking care of] the formation of the crews.”
There now follows a brief rest period before it all starts again. “The route of the Tour de France is known by October, allowing us to have the first recce of the mountains before the snow starts falling. All in all there is probably six months of preparation involved, the last two of which are very intense,” concludes Dumond.