PezCycling News - What's Cool In Road Cycling : Inside Le Tour With’s Scott McGrory

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Inside Le Tour With’s Scott McGrory
The Aussies have been quiet this Tour; or have they? We decided we’d check in with Fox TV Australia and presenter – not to mention former Olympic Madison champion and six day Blue Train passenger – Scott McGrory, OAM, to get the Tour view from the opposite side of the world.

PEZ: What does the ‘OAM’ after your name stand for, Scott?
Scott: It’s the Medal of the Order of Australia; I was awarded that after our win in the Olympics.

PEZ: How are the Tour viewing figures at Fox?
Scott: I don’t have exact numbers yet, but Fox are very happy with the work we’re doing here and our Ozcycling site is coming on fine too.

PEZ: I hear tell that its mega bucks to show Tour footage.
Scott: Fox have the rights to the Tour footage; but we have to careful not to use anything from the ASO feed on ozcycling. However, we can show stuff like Cav hugging and kissing his team after his win, on Monday.

PEZ: A good Tour for Aussie coureurs?
Scott: It’s been a great Tour for Aussie riders, albeit they haven’t been throwing their arms up in victory salutes. Cadel is in great condition but it wasn’t ideal the position he found himself in when he came out of the TTT.

Cadel is a little bit further back than he'd like, but he's not out of the running just yet.

Mark Renshaw has been doing a great job for Cav; his results don’t show but he’s making a great contribution to Cav’s success. Brett Lancaster is doing a similar job for Thor Hushovd – he was well to the fore for him on the Barcelona stage which Thor won.

Mick Rogers is in good shape too and would have been well there in the Monaco TT but his chain unshipped twice; then he crashed badly on the Barcelona stage. I hope he recovers and can change his focus to a stage win.

Mark Renshaw is Cav's trusted final leadout man, and he seems to be doing a pretty fine job in that role.

It was disappointing to see Simon Gerrans left out of the Cervelo team – I don’t think that was a good decision. And of course Robbie McEwen is out with injury, which is a pity.

PEZ: Who’s impressing?
Scott: Contador, Armstrong, the whole Astana team; if Kloden was to sneak away, he’s a potential Tour winner! I can’t see anyone beating Contador in the mountains; but Lance is such a superior athlete that he’ll get stronger as the race progresses; not weaker – just like we saw in the Giro.

PEZ: Your favourite stage, so far?
Scott: Arcalis - the other two Pyrenean stages may have been fizzers – but the anticipation and excitement of Arcalis was great. Cadel had a go, Contador attacked; Nocentini took the jersey – that was a good stage.

PEZ: The Pyrenees weren’t perhaps what we expected.
Scott: Once Nocentini took the jersey, the big teams just looked at each other. I interviewed Lance, the other day and asked him about the lack of action in the Pyrenees; he said the organisation couldn’t make them too hard, bearing in mind how hard the last week is and in particular, the Ventoux. For me the Tourmalet was a bit of a case ‘why bother?’ it was 70 K from the summit to the finish.

PEZ: Surprises?
Scott: Wiggins – until now he’s only been a ‘prologue guy’ when it comes to the road; but this year he’s lost a lot of weight, his body shape has changed and for him to be in the top ten, less than a year after winning two Olympic golds on the track, is just amazing.

Lance? Not a surprise.

Lance – not a surprise, but regardless of where he finishes it’s a tremendous achievement for him to be back riding the way he is.

PEZ: Disappointments?
Scott: On a personal level – Mick Rogers, he was in such great shape and it was very disappointing to see him laid low in that crash.

Kirchen – he did so well last year but rode a shocker in Monaco and we've hardly seen him at all.

Menchov hasn't showed very well so far at the Tour, but hey, he still has the Giro win to his credit.

Menchov – but he did have a very hard Giro and I don’t think he’s recovered; it just go to show that in modern cycling you have to invest so much in one Grand Tour that it’s not possible to ride two and be up there.

PEZ: Cav?
Scott: He’s the fastest man on two wheels – I think that he’s unbeatable in a flat finish; no one can get near him. It’s not just him; his team is so committed – Hincapie, Martin, Renshaw, they’re all so dedicated to him.

There's no question: Cav is the fastest man on two wheels.

He maybe speaks his mind a little too much but the first thing he always does when you talk at him at a stage finish is to praise his team. You can talk about Cipo and Ale Jet, but I think that we’ve entered the era of a new Super Sprinter with Mark Cavendish.

PEZ: Can Hushovd win green?
Scott: It depends on how tough the stages are; I haven’t checked the other finishes yet, so I don’t know which ones will suit Cav and which ones will suit Thor. They have a different tactic; Thor goes for the bonus sprints, Cav doesn’t.

Thor will have to work hard for the intermediate sprints if he is going to have a chance at Green in Paris.

He relies totally on his finish line points. That makes it hard for Thor because he has to make a lot more effort during the stage; but Thor is tough, seasoned competitor who’ll get through the mountains and be there in Paris.

PEZ: The Astana Civil War?
Scott: I wouldn’t say it was a Civil War but it’s certainly a collision of big egos; Contador was the best stage race rider in the world until Lance came back – he’s still the best, but Lance is the best Tour rider in history. And Lance didn’t come back to be second; he has that aura around him, it’s so hard to keep him down.

Team Astana: not quite a civil war, but definitely a dynamic situation.

PEZ: Your best interview, so far?
Scott: Most of them have been good; I know all the riders and they are happy to talk to Fox. But for me the high light has been interviewing Ben Stiller and Robin Williams – that’s Hollywood, and a whole new league for me!

PEZ: Any dud interviews?
Scott: If you’d asked me that last year I’d have had to say; “yes!” But I think I’ve come on a lot as a TV presenter in the last year; we’re very selective about whom we talk to, we only do three or four each day and they’ve all been good. Cav was nervous before stage ten and his third win, but I was able to mention that to him at the finish and he admitted; ‘yeah, I was nervous!’

PEZ: Tip for the top?
Scott: Contador – for me, the only way to beat Astana would be to get them into yellow and force them to burn up the likes of Zubeldia and Popo. I think that Saxo and Cervelo have to light it up on that stage to Colmar and try to distance Nocentini, force Astana into the lead then attack them. If they don’t, then AG2R will lead Astana all the way to Verbier.

Alberto Contador - once again the pick of the pundit.

PEZ: Do you ever think; ‘I wish I’d ridden this race during my time as a pro?’
Scott: Every single day! I wouldn’t swap my Olympic gold for a Tour finish; but not riding the Tour is the biggest regret of my pro career. Having said that, to do that I’d have had to give up the sixes and probably my Olympic gold in the Madison – but yes, it’s certainly a regret.

With thanks to Scott for the Oz view on le Tour; I’ll be buying him a beer and asking for tips on how to interview those Hollywood stars, when I see him.


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