Comment ça va!

The run up to the end in Cambrai of stage 4 of this year's Tour de France delivered a telling moment, my favourite moment in the race, so far.

Froome hands off water bottle (Eurosport,
It was there that race leader Chris Froome was captured on video dropping, gently, a water bottle in front of a fan standing on the road side. Of course, the usual move would have been for a cyclist to jettison the water bottle with no small degree of force, launching it in an arc that brought it down in a field or in stand of crops or trees, the goal being to lose ballast quickly, rather than to deliver a souvenir kindly.

It was an image television viewers witnessed go by at the speed of it all, but a moment that was then masterfully and thankfully rescued from the flow.

"Chris Froome, what a gent," Carlton Kirby, the Eurosport commentator, immediately told viewers.

"He takes a big toot on a bidon, thinks about putting it in the cage, 'cause there's a little bit left, sees a young fan at the side of the road, offers up the bottle and just drops it, plop!, to the side of them as he goes by.

"Fancy having that sort of space in your mind to just think about the fans as well as yourself. Great man, Chris Froome. And he wears that jersey."

Fancy that, indeed.

It was a magnanimous move from the maillot jaune, surely, but save some praise, too, for the verbal art of Kirby, because he had to hit that note, a note he had no idea he would have the chance to play, while the image of Froome was still fresh. And he did.

In fact, he didn't have to hit that note at all. He could have just let it go by like so much television sports commentary that lets the pictures do the talking. (Or knows it's not going to break into the conversations at the pub.)

And, once he decided he would interpret that moment for his viewers, he had to do it justice. Chris Froome, what a nice guy giving his water bottle to a fan is the truth, and it's what we are conditioned to get these days, especially from hockey play-by-play commentators. But Kirby gave us what happened with a wave of colourful language ("toot on a bidon"), followed by sound ("plop!"),  and then another wave of analysis that, for me, captured what was remarkable about what I had just seen and felt ("fancy having that sort of space in your mind").

And he had to do all of this without the help of a backspace key of any kind.  :)

Of course, Kirby did two things that really good television storytellers do. He evaluated what he saw, what I saw, marking it as something worth talking about and not just watching go by. And he named what I felt, in that instant, making all the technology go away, for a moment.

Watch the pair of brilliant sharing gestures here, starting at about the 7:08 mark:

Thanks, gentlemen!


  1. Nice blog. I enjoyed the incident described too, and I love listening to Carlton and Sean

    1. Thank you so much for the reading and the kind verdict! Makes my day. 🚲😀


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