Tour of Oman riders and organisers unconcerned by lack of live TV coverage

Focus on local news and highlights, with live coverage planned for next year

The Tour of Oman organisers says that they are unconcerned by the lack of live television in the 2017 edition, putting priority on highlights and news.

The race has never been broadcast live on TV, but in previous years there have been extended highlights broadcast on Eurosport the day after the stage.

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>>> Tour of Oman 2017 TV guide

“We don’t have the money for live this year, it’s very expensive and secondly, we want to develop Oman TV and a partnership,” Vincent Wathelet, the Tour of Oman’s television coordinator told Cycling Weekly.

“The most important TV aspect for us is the news, I’m focused on this,” added Dirk De Pauw, the race’s co-organiser with cycling great Eddy Merckx.

“Not everyone likes cycling, but they’ll watch highlights, the goals of a football match or the cyclist racing to the win over the line.

Local TV is broadcasting live from the finish of each stage, although only showing the last few hundred metres of racing (Credit: Gregor Brown)

However that’s not to say that the race won’t receive live coverage in future, with Wathelet hoping for everything to be in place by 2018.

“In a maximum of two years, we’ll have live coverage,” continued Wathelet. “We need more equipment to make it happen.”

“We have a closer cooperation with Oman TV this year and they want to provide means for live coverage next year,” added De Pauw. “They are setting things up and buying equipped cars for live TV.”

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It is important that the coverage, both live and highlights, shows off the mountainous countryside and Arabian coastline with funding coming from the Sultanate of Oman. The backers want to get locals behind the race and entice foreigners to spend their tourism dollars on an Omani vacation.

“The footage sells this country,” De Pauw said. “In the Middle East, this is the only beautiful country. It’s hard to say that, but it is that way.

“We need to have the news and highlights package along with the live, focus on both things. To be live is prestigious, but we want results. We want to bring people to Oman.”

Watch: highlights of stage three of the Tour of Oman

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Well, for the riders, the racing feels the same whether it is broadcast live or not.

“My family didn’t see it,” Søren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) said of his stage win yesterday. “They have a normal working day, but of course, they followed on the internet.

“Is live coverage important? No, not really, once you race, you race; once you win, you win.”

That sentiment was echoed by many other riders at the race.

“Personally it doesn’t make a difference, but for the team, the sponsors and the brand, it could have an impact,” said Matt Brammeier (Aqua Blue Sport). “Sometimes [with family and friends not able to see it] it is almost as if it’s not going on.”

“For the sponsor it is better if it is live, but for the team it’s the feeling of winning and the happiness,” Sunweb Sports Director Marc Reef said. “The sponsors want to see it live and that makes a difference.

“You see in the Andalusia [the Ruta del Sol] race live on TV and it makes a difference, people are more connected to it.”

De Pauw and his team are working towards that goal for 2018. The Tour of Oman should return stronger and have the Tour of Qatar, also organised by De Pauw and Merckx, once again preceding it.