As the Tour de France ends today, I thought I would take a look back at how the Tour was covered on US TV some two decades ago. Thanks to Lance Armstrong, the popularity of the Tour has led to wall-to-wall coverage on Versus.
When CBS had the exclusive rights, it would only show coverage on weekends and maybe an hour recap on CBS Sports Spectacular. For many viewers, it was the only way to see the Tour. There was no cable coverage, ESPN had not seen the viability of the event. When ABC Sports took the rights of the Tour in the early 1990′s, it did similar coverage, only on the weekends.
Then a network called OLN, Outdoor Life Network got the rights in the late 1990′s and with the rise of Lance Armstrong, showed coverage every day and when he started winning, the awareness of the Tour rose as well. And of course, OLN became Versus and the Tour is a mainstay of the network every July.
But let’s take a look at how CBS covered the Tour de France in 1988, 21 years ago. Tim Brandt was the host in this segment. And the music was done by John Tesh, who many of you may not know began first as a TV news reporter, then moved to CBS Sports in the early 1980′s, then when on to Entertainment Tonight and called the 1992 and 1996 Olympics gymnastics competition for NBC.
See how different the coverage was back then. This is how Tim sets the scene for CBS’ start of three weeks of coverage.
This is where we see the legendary Phil Liggett explaining the players and what we’ll see coming into the 1988 Tour de France.
We continue with the scenesetters. In this part, we have interviews with former Tour winner Greg Lemond, the first U.S. winner of the Tour.
Here’s more of the scenesetter from CBS. Tim Brandt again is the main host.
CBS recaps the first week. Tim and Phil are your narrators.
Here’s more from Week 1 of the Tour.
Here’s another opening montage for CBS. This is leading to the final prologue to Paris. Of course, some things never change at the Tour as you’ll see.
And we move to the final week of the Tour with Tim and Phil. Again CBS recaps from the beginning. The music is from John Tesh.
CBS now goes to the Final Stage.
And we conclude the Final Stage.
That concludes your look at the Tour de France on CBS from 1988.