BBC hit out at lack of timing info at men's road race

Olympic Broadcast Services paid to provide live footage and timings

by Sarah Barth   July 28, 2012  

London 2012 Road Race Route (source LOCOG).jpg

The BBC has hit out at the Olympic Broadcast Service, saying that a lack of timing information made it impossible to commentate accurately on the men's road race today.

There was little information available to viewers or commentators, including Chris Boardman, on how the race was progressing, or how much space was developing between the peloton and various breakaways.

A BBC spokesman said: "We have raised our concerns with OBS who have explained that there were GPS problems with the Locog-supplied timing graphics, which resulted in a lack of information for the commentary teams.

"A number of tests were run by OBS this morning on parts of the course. We've been assured that everything is being done to try and resolve this ahead of the women's road race."

The issue is especially important given that the BBC, the Olympic broadcaster, will be repeating the race tomorrow for the women's event.

As the nation willed on Mark Cavendish to a hotly anticipated sprint win at the Mall, it was unclear how much of an advantage Alexandr Vinokourov and Colombia's Rigoberto Uran had as they pedalled their way to gold and silver medals respectively.

OBS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the International Olympic Committee and hosts the broadcasting operation for several major sporting events.

It employs local teams of broadcast professionals to cover all 26 Olympic sports, since 2008 when it was formed "to ensure the high standards of broadcasting were maintained over successive Olympic Games."



17 user comments

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total shambles - I sympathise with the commentators, but how can the BBC producer not share some of the blame?

I mean, a quick question several weeks ago "how often will we get time intervals?" would have revealed the massive oversight on the part of the broadcasters

ps Commiserations to team GB - I'm no expert, but some help from other nations with an interest in a sprint (USA, Germany) might have been appropriate. But then again, they would've lost so who's to blame them?

posted by fluffy_mike [94 posts]
28th July 2012 - 22:42


Cav looked strong today, but GB was unlucky.

So I too blame the Germans.

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1734 posts]
28th July 2012 - 22:52


While the lack of time gaps and graphics was annoying the BBC's commentary was poor. Eurosport commentater are often faced with the same situation and they do their own time gaps based on seeing the same point being passed by each group.
Also Hugh's fine with the track, and of course has great pedigree, but he just doesn't seem to be able to keep up with the road and then it was capped with his declaration that Griepel won the sprint for fourth place!?

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [811 posts]
28th July 2012 - 23:08


>Eurosport commentater are often faced with the same situation and they do their own time gaps based on seeing the same point being passed by each group.

Judging by the footage that was broadcast (at a quick squint - we were on box hill for most of it so have seen mostly just the start and end), it was chopping between groups, and mebbe not that easy to give a reliable estimate because the reference points were shifting.

posted by JonD [349 posts]
28th July 2012 - 23:43


TheHatter wrote:

Also Hugh's fine with the track, and of course has great pedigree, but he just doesn't seem to be able to keep up with the road and then it was capped with his declaration that Griepel won the sprint for fourth place!?

What topped it off for me was his

"Oh its Denmark, Not I think it could be Spain, Infact its someone from Holland"

For the bronze when every man and his blind dog could see it was a Norwegian Devil

Which Eurosport was everyone watching it on? I didn't see it on British Eurosport nor Eurosport 2, wasn't being shown on my tv because I kept trying as the BBC were doing my nut in

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9364 posts]
29th July 2012 - 0:03


Well atleast it wasn't the beeb's fault for the lack of info but commentary was poor. I got the impression Boardman was not amused. Should have hired ASO as they manage a three week race flawlessly.

As for the race I agree with Cav, the motto was Anyone but Cav from the other nations.

Here's hoping team GB have better luck today and Wiggo next week.

Crimea03's picture

posted by Crimea03 [16 posts]
29th July 2012 - 7:45


Need to stop blaming the other nations. Aussies had someone in the break, so did USA, Spain, Holland, Russia, Belgium.... Get the picture. Teams will not chase down their own riders. The break was simply 2 big to control...
Exception is Germany, but I think the pace of the GB squad throughout the laps killed them off (and the GB guys as well) as they obviously didn't have anything left for the run in. They ried and failed to bring it all back together on the laps... Might have been better to have saved some energy, let the smaller break get a few minutes, then all teams would have helped on the 50k run into the finish.
Game plan was a gamble, it failed. GB didn't lose, the breakaway won.... and a wily Vino got a well deserved gold

As for commentary, I agree Hugh was very poor. Chris Boardman did a good job, but the number of times Hugh gave wrong detail was awful.... sometimes even with a caption on the screen (which was rare), he still got it wrong!

posted by shot18 [55 posts]
29th July 2012 - 10:31


how hard is it to have a list of rider numbers and names? how hard is it to have a sheet showing the jersey colours of the main contender nations?

However bad the coverage was you can't excuse poor preparation from the commentator.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1889 posts]
29th July 2012 - 10:37


Sorry but having watched the race I have a lot of sympathy for the commentators. The camera work was poor making it difficult to see rider numbers, there was little or no information available on who was in the break and it did keep chopping and changing between groups making it difficult for me to work out time gaps myself let alone someone also trying to commentate.

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
29th July 2012 - 10:46


Sorry BOYS ( Team GB Men’s cycle team )

But the views of the Olympic broadcasters /BBC are not necessarily the views of the general public and also other cyclists.

I am disappointed that the BBC who represent us can verbally round on Team GB Cyclists who they suggest have let the country down for not winning what 'they' considered a guaranteed Gold medal in the Men’s road race .

What Team GB (Sky) have proven in the last month how with constant information via race radio that they can; and do respond to the ever present danger of breakaways and will ride accordingly; making constant calculations in order to pull the leaders back.

If it is necessary point the finger of blame then lets look at the race radio coverage and lack of depth and bredth in the broadcasters used by the BBC.

Why did they not use the tried and tested method which our European neighbours use - if anyone new to the sport was to watch say the TDF they might be overwhelmed by constant reminders in the corner of the screen of the race leader/peloton times. Wondering why we need all this ‘superfluous’ information. It is because it is NOT superfluious and is an integral part of the race strategy

How many times have we heard the dulcet tones of Sean Kelly - who by the way has the depth and bredth which I mentioned earlier, saying during a race that the team will be' making the calculations’? Indicating that the cyclists are aware of the danger i.e the distance of the breakaway -and also the distance left within the race to catch them. A team leader will then vector in the time, the distance, and the power required to bridge the gap, and increase their speed and power output accordingly. If the team were denied access to this information via Olympic race radio how can they make these calculations.?

Some people have said that the lack of information was the same for every rider so effectively it was an even playing field. No not at all , the lack of regular time checks played into the hands of the strong breakaway contenders since it gave them an advantage which they do not usually have during well organised rides. Taking nothing away from the Gold won by Alexandr Vinokurov who rode a very strong race.

Chapeau to Mark Cavendish, who at the end of a very hard day in the saddle was asked a trite and thoughtless question by a BBC interviewer – Mark I suspect is correct - The BBC interviewer knew little about the sport. Oh top TV last night too, where the BBC had an ex footballer, two ex- track Atheletes and an ex tennis player trying to make sense of the event. Do we not have any specific cycling broadcasters available who might enlighten the public with expert knowledge ??

Bontrager Buster

Opismath's picture

posted by Opismath [12 posts]
29th July 2012 - 11:21


the whole thing was a complete shambles imo. That bloody Hugh Porter is an absolute tool!

posted by Karbon Kev [683 posts]
29th July 2012 - 12:44


could have done with some decent camera men too.. too often the image was too dark, too far away, not showing anything of any interest, lots of helicopter shots showing nothing etc etc

posted by meehaja [27 posts]
29th July 2012 - 14:44


Hugh Porter at the break at the end
'Who is that with Vinokourov? is it New Zealand?'


"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

Cooks's picture

posted by Cooks [525 posts]
29th July 2012 - 16:24


This is just the start of a terrible games for team GB in general. There is no way they will hit their 48 medal target. Addlington is going to struggle in the swimming. Poor Vicky will lose the cycling. Daly is behind the Chinese. The same thing happened the Olympics after we got a huge athletics medal haul. The next one, Edwards failed etc and the GB athletics team were terrible. After beijing, we created a load of personalities, and the rest of the world concentrated on getting better.
I hope i'm wrong.

posted by thefatcyclist [584 posts]
29th July 2012 - 19:07


The best part is the reaction on David Bond's blog (which he's now changed without referencing it) of the public after his awful news at 10 report. Amazingly other news chanels hav't picked up on this.

posted by georgee [158 posts]
30th July 2012 - 9:53


I was staggered by the inability of the commentators to recognise which country riders were from. Were the kits secret before they lined up?

posted by BigDummy [314 posts]
30th July 2012 - 9:54


@thefatcyclist, blimey, it's a wonder you get up in the morning if you're that depressed!

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3723 posts]
30th July 2012 - 11:51