Junior rider holds off Tom Boonen in epic Tour de France commercial battle

During the early years of Tour de France broadcasts in the United States on the now-defunct Versus (and its previous name, Outdoor Life Network) one frustration nearly ruined the telecasts.

Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen brought knowledge to U.S. audiences and shined, just as they do now on the NBC Sports Network.Tour de France Specialized commercial

The problem years ago was that the broadcast couldn’t solicit many advertisers. The same one or two spots were repeated so often, the annoyance factor was . . . well, annoying.

The NBC Sports Network had better advertising spots this year, although the Tour de France is still largely a niche broadcast and doesn’t attract major advertisers — automakers, for example.

The exception this year was the 30-second Specialized spot. It’s called “The Chase.”

A young rider is pedaling fast and then the fun begins. The country road becomes Paris-Roubaix and there’s Tom Boonen going for it. And there’s the boy fantasizing like so many young athletes about a favorite cyclist.

Liggett and Sherwen do the voice-overs. The commercial ends with the boy with a look of sheer joy (and a slight smile) on his face.

In three weeks of the recently concluded Tour de France, I saw the commercial a few-dozen times. And I could watch it a few dozen more times.

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