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The longer I do this gig, the more it makes me realize that there is no end to the CYCLING TIPS that can be blogged about.  And did we ever hit the jackpot last night!   I had the pleasure of going for a ride with Matt Keenan a couple weeks ago.  For those of you who don’t know, Matt works for the ASO and commentates the best races in cycling.   I knew Matt would be busy so I shot him a quick email asking for his TIP on who would be on the podium in Paris-Nice.  Not only did he take the time to give us that, but he also gave us some top COMMENTATING TIPS for all you aspiring Matt Keenan’s out there.   You can follow Matt’s blog here.


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Matt Keenan’s Paris-Nice Podium TIPS:

I think  it will be an all Spanish podium:

1. Alberto Contador (AST)
2. Luis Leon Sanchez (GCE)
3. Juan Manuel Garate (RAB)

Commentating TIPS – Who’s Who? …by Matthew Keenan

The first four stages of Paris-Nice were raced in the rain and the majority of each stage the riders were wearing rain coats and their numbers were covered, which always makes it difficult to identify who’s who. Plus you throw in glasses, helmets, booties, etc and it can get a little challenging.

The trick for a commentator is to know the height of as many riders as possible, their role in the team, their riding style and where they normally place themselves in the peloton.

For example, if you see a tall Cofidis rider at the back of the peloton it will almost always be David Moncoutie. Thomas Voeckler is either at the back or off the front and you look for his knees and elbows sticking out. Short and stocky from Agritubel at the back of the peloton is normally Nicolas Vogondy.

Being a former national champion is always helpful. Rabobank’s Juan Manuel Garate is easy to pick out from Juan Antonia Flecha despite the fact they look similar in the face as Garate has the Spanish bands around his sleeves.

It’s also important to know what shoes people wear, particularly in sprint finishes. At last year’s Vuelta Nicolas Roche and Sebastien Hinault were both sprinting well for Credit Agricole and are a similar body shape, especially when they are head down from a front on camera shot. The key difference was Hinault wore yellow Mavic shoes last year.

Luis Leon Sanchez is an easy one to pick in the peloton because he’s the only guy on Caisse d’Epargne who wears the yellow Mavic shoes, plus he is fairly predictable – as soon as their is a dangerous descent I look for him to attack.

The role of each teammate comes into play when they are chasing a breakaway simply through a process of elimination. Stage two with Columbia-Highroad were good examples as they came here saying Mark Renshaw will be protected in the sprints and Maxime Monfort is going for the general classification. So when they started chasing on stage two you can eliminate those two from the chase, which leaves you with five guys (they only started with seven). Then someone has to lead Renshaw out and the best guy for that is Marcus Burghardt so he won’t be chasing early. So we’re down to four guys to choose from. Tony Martin had the white jersey as best young rider so the two guys at the front won’t include him. We’re now down to three riders left.  Michael Barry normally wears glasses regardless of the weather and he normally has the job of chasing early or getting in the early break.   Therefore he was one of the guys doing that job and the other guy working was Marco Pinotti.  Marco is quite short and easy to differentiate from Marcel Sieberg at 198cm who was the only other option.

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Sylvian Chavanel the tattoo on his calf, Heinrich Haussler the hair hanging out of his helmet, Vladimir Karpets the mullet, Inigo Cuesta a five o’clock shadow by 10am, Pierrick Fedrigo a massive hooter… the list goes on and on for little details you focus on to identify a rider.

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There you go.  A few things to take note of when trying to commentate a frantic bike race while trying to make sense of it all!

photos from Velonews and Graham Watson