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The Telegraph Cycling Podcast is the big winner at the Tour de France so far

July 9, 2014

cycling podcast

PROFESSIONAL cycling has been a fruitful place for podcasting over the last few years, with the late lamented Real Peloton and the Bike Show podcasts producing magnificent material in recent years.
However, the Telegraph’s Cycling Podcast, which began life as the Humans Invent cycling podcast at the end of the 2013 tour, has taken cycling podcasting to another level.
Produced by the considerable talents of Lionel Birnie, Daniel Friebe and Richard Moore, it is a triumph of real journalists with great contacts books and the passion and ability to analyse the sport engagingly and sometimes irreverently.
All three writers are successful authors and cycling journalists of established pedigree and as a result they are capable of getting excellent interviewees, none bigger than Team Sky’s principal Sir Dave Brailsford for yesterday’s show.
Their credentials cannot be overestimated. Both Moore’s biography of Robert Millar and Slaying the Badger,  about the 1986 Tour, are genuine landmarks in cycling writing. Friebe is Mark Cavendish’s biographer and his Eddy Merckx book is also a must read. Likewise, Birnie’s Sean Kelly biography is essential reading and his Cycling Anthology series is a brilliant new means of covering the sport.
Like most successful podcasts (or radio shows for that matter) it manages to accommodate huge expertise with running in-jokes: Birnie’s musical namesake Lionel Richie is name checked regularly as is the eccentric 1970s Belgian cycling legend Roger de Vlaeminck.

It is the intimacy of the podcasting genre between producer and listener that allows this accommodation between familiarity and traditional journalistic distance.

Where it has been genuinely innovative has been the mixture of traditional podcasting discussion with network radio-style pre-recorded feature packages.
Today’s enormously eventful and rain sodden stage across the paving stones of north eastern France was supplemented by an interesting feature package from Birnie on the course from the start to the final shake-up. The best part of the package was Birnie on the final section of cobbles feigning concern for who was leading on the road  as his new Adidas Gazelle trainers were horrendously splashed with mud as the race’s motorcade raced past.
From the point of view of the podcasting world offering a place for non-broadcast professionals to show their talents, Moore has been a revelation as an assured ‘host’ of the podcast and he has also performed well as a pundit on BBC Radio 5.
Perhaps the link-up with the Telegraph has also benefited them with additional technical support: today’s show dropped on iTunes at around 10pm, five hours after the finish and was as comprehensive a round-up of an insanely involved day’s professional cycling as you are likely to hear in such a short time. It was probably better than the coverage on network radio.
With Gary Imlach, Ned Boulting, Matt Rendell and Chris Boardman on ITV, the ever reliable team of Carlton Kirby and Sean Kelly on Eurosport and the Telegraph Cycling Podcast online, perhaps we are in a genuine golden age of bike race journalism.
Long may it continue.

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