NBC Sports Group, ASO Join Forces for 2012 Amgen Tour of California

From Santa Rosa to Santa Cruz, from Livermore to Los Angeles, the 2012 Amgen Tour of California is wending its way through the state this week. NBC Sports Network is providing live coverage at every stage of the premier U.S.-based cycling event, which began on Sunday May 13 and concludes this Sunday. For the first time ever, the race’s final stage will air on NBC.

“The NBC Sports Group has made a significant commitment to the sport of cycling, including more hours of Tour de France,” says Adam Freifeld, VP of communications, NBC Sports Group. “With Tour of California being the single biggest cycling event in the U.S., we felt it was worth it to add two hours of coverage on NBC.”

The NBC Sports Group works alongside Amaury Sports Organization (ASO) to deliver the Tour of California to the U.S. With ASO primarily responsible for the race’s live two-hour final stretch on May 20, NBC Sports Network is charged with providing daily coverage before Sunday.

“We have a moto camera that shoots the start and finish,” says Joel Felicio, cycling producer, NBC Sports Group. “Anything that happens prior to ASO coverage — an attack, a crash, the summit of a mountain — we will capture it.”

For the race’s final stage, ASO will provide three motorcycles, a helicopter, and five hard cameras at the finish. NBC Sports Group will provide an additional camera at the finish for post-race interviews, which ASO will use for its world feed.

“We work as a team with the ASO to make sure that we get the shots we need,” says Felicio. “For example, during the race, we are on an intercom system with the director at the ASO, and, if we want an isolation shot on a rider, he’ll provide that to us.

“There are 150 cyclists competing in the race, and you cannot possibly have a camera on everyone,” he continues. “You have to be strategic on who to shoot and who to follow. Capturing the key moments is challenging in cycling.”

In addition to daily highlights that will air each night of the eight-day competition, NBC Sports Network will give viewers unprecedented access to the competition with in-depth profiles on the race’s top riders.

“We came to California weeks ago with two film crews to shoot features with seven teams leading into the race, and this allows the viewer to hear from the riders so that we can capture the interesting stories that we air throughout our race coverage,” says Felicio. “We also shot all the key sections of the course, which of course is a main character in any race.”

Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen will be on-site in California to provide commentary and insight for each day of NBC Sports Group’s coverage ,with Bob Roll returning as the in-race reporter.

“This is an exciting course with a really tough final few days around Big Bear and Mt. Baldy,” says Liggett. “A lot of the European riders now prefer this race to the Giro d’Italia, as they prepare for the Tour de France, so the field just gets stronger and stronger. In my opinion, this is the best route in the race’s seven years and will provide a real clash of the titans.”

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