What's Cool In Road Cycling

Stats and Tech Aren’t Everything, Says Carlton Kirby

During a recent interview with Betway, Kirby who is a veteran commentator talked about some of the challenges that he faces in his job. He mentioned that he gets a lot of criticism from fans but he’s only doing what he’s supposed to. Kirby has worked in the sport since 1996.

While a football or rugby match will last for less than two hours, a single stage of the Tour de France can go on for up to 6hrs. The shortest stage of the 2019 edition was the 117.5km stage 14 that was won by Thibaut Pinot. This lasted for more than 3hrs.


The commentator has a hard time filling this time as it’s usually more exciting at the beginning and end of the race. The nature of the sport itself makes the job even more difficult. In between, he has to get creative and find some action to fill the time. Commentating on cycling differs from other sports such as tennis. In these other sports, you have to respect the action and allow the fans time to soak in the moments. Tennis commentators don’t have to talk

When it comes to cycling, the commentary should not have gaps. It has to be complete. The longest that the commentator can remain silent is just a few seconds. During this time he listens to the crowd and proceeds with the commentary.

The commentator is required to concentrate all through the race and this can be a little challenging. Part of their job also requires them to pay attention to the director. They also have to handle numerous radio announcements and a whole lot of other actions taking place around them. This requires them to remain very alert all through.

Kirby says that it’s not uncommon for commentators to keep talking while they’re being handed notes, the director is speaking to them, and they’re still listening to race radio. Their level of multi-tasking is out of this world.

Does he prefer to be on-site? Yes, as that gives him more material to talk about. But essentially it doesn’t change much since he still has to watch the race on the monitor. He has to be at the finish line and watch it on TV.

Considering all the distractions that he has to keep off, you must admit that Kirby does a pretty amazing job. However, not everyone understands this. There are people who feel that he isn’t competent enough to be on Eurosport. There’s a petition requesting for his removal. The reasons they give include unnecessary screaming, inane chatter, and terrible jokes. Thanks to technological advancements, fans have numerous platforms where they can voice their opinions. This makes it very easy for people to praise and criticize at the same time.

On the other hand, there are plenty of fans who give Kirby their full support. They love his enthusiasm on the mic.

Kirby is at ease with both the positives and negatives. He hopes that people can understand that commentating is not like a press release that’s already written and all you have to do is read it out. The commentator doesn’t get time to edit his brief. Once the words are out, that’s that.

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