TV Junkie: A Lazy 4th of July Weekend Features Tour de France
With a weekend of repeats and series marathons (we find only the HBO "John Adams" marathon timely enough) we have plenty of sporting events, most of them "non-American" despite the fact that a lot of Americans enjoy participating in them: soccer, cycling, and tennis.
On Saturday we advance further with the FIFA World Cup with two games (Argentina vs Germany and Paraguay vs Spain) as well as the prologue time trial of the Tour de France. Very early Sunday morning brings us the men's final at Wimbledon and Stage 1 of the Tour de France. This is when we begin our annual pitch for you to check out the Tour de France, an interesting sport with some intricacies, where you are guaranteed to learn something as well as enjoy opportunity to cheer on an ever-growing list of Americans who will play pivotal roles in the outcome of the event.
The Tour will be an exciting one this year with many teams bringing serious contenders to the biggest bike race in the world. While Spain's Alberto Contador and his Astana team are considered favorites, the media likes to hype up his rivalry with Lance Armstrong and his Team Radio Shack. Armtrong may have some great form that he only just started to reveal at the Tour de Suisse a few weeks ago but Italy's Ivan Basso, a two-time winner of the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) is a serious threat as well as Australia's Cadel Evans, Luxembourgian brothers Andy and Frank Schleck, and a list of capable contenders goes on.
But even the best laid plans can easily go awry as the race heads through brutal cobblestone stages (pay attention to Monday and, in particular, Tuesday's stages) where narrow roads, strong winds, and an extremely rough road surface could cause massive crashes allowing a leading group to gain enough time on the clock for a victory in Paris three weeks later despite mountain stages in the Alps and Pyrenees. Contador says that the race will be won on the steep climbs of the Pyrenees mountains but Armstrong is keeping mum on where he thinks the key moves will happen. Can the old guy win it? We think he can and that would be an incredible achievement to witness.
On cable, we will be forced to watch the race on Versus who had several foul ups during the Tour of California and Tour de Suisse but we think they'll get their act together for this most major event. They're offering some kind of "premium" package that will cost you in the area of $25+ for extra/better coverage but you might not need it. Online, we suggest you check out ProCyclingLive.com which has been adept at providing unfiltered feeds of European broadcasts which have truly been a pleasure to watch so far this season: minimal commercial breaks, and a variety of intelligent commentary and insight. While we love veteran English commentators Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin, ProCyclingLive has shown that they are not the only game in town and if you get sick of Versus' endless Michelob Ultra commercials, definitely check out the alternatives.
Beyond the below offerings, there really isn't that much on the tube and that's what the 4th of July weekend is for. Have fun and don't blow your fingers off, you'll need them for your remote.
The TV Junkie Plan: Tonight - "Lance vs Contador", "Need to Know", "The Whitest Kids You Know", Letterman (Jennifer Aniston), Fergison (Angela Kinsey, Dennis Eckersley). Saturday - World Cup Soccer (Argentina vs Germany), Tour de France, World Cup Soccer (Paraguay vs Spain). Sunday - Tour de France, Wimbledon, Hy-Vee U.S. Triathlon, "The General" (Buster Keaton). Monday AM - Tour de France.
7:00pm Lance vs. Contador Versus - A preview of a Tour de France rivalry.
9:00pm Flashpoint CBS - While broadcasting live, a notorious radio-show host holds a prominent politician hostage.
9:00pm Need to Know PBS/LCET - Newsmakers Interview; Drilling Down: Conversations on the Gulf Oil Disaster; Search for the Little Pink Pill
10:35pm The Whitest Kids You Know IFC - "Old Man Winters"; "Booger Blasters"; "Moon Landing."
11:35pm Late Show With David Letterman CBS - Actress Jennifer Aniston; marine researcher Capt. Charles Moore.
12:35am The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson CBS - Actress Angela Kinsey; former professional baseball player Dennis Eckersley; Dr. Dog performs.
"John Adams" Marathon HBO - All day, more John Adams than you can handle.
6:30am World Cup Soccer ABC - Third Quarterfinal: Argentina vs. Germany From Cape Town, South Africa
8:00am Cycling Versus - Tour de France: Prologue From Rotterdam to Rotterdam.
11:00am World Cup Soccer ABC - Fourth Quarterfinal: Paraguay vs. Spain From Johannesburg, South Africa.
9:00pm the forgotten ABC - Gunfire outside a charity event kills a woman and injures others, including a person (Aisha Tyler) from Alex's past.
5:30am Cycling Versus - Tour de France: Stage 1 From Rotterdam to Bruxelles.
6:00am Tennis: Wimbledon NBC - Men's Final From the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, England.
12:00pm Triathlon NBC - Hy-Vee U.S. Triathlon From Des Moines, Iowa.
9:30pm The General TCM - (1927) Union spies pursue an engineer (Buster Keaton) who chased them to recover his stolen train. Silent.
10:00pm Iron Chef America Food - Symon vs. Okuwa First time challenger Iron Chef Makoto Okuwa goes up against Iron Chef Michael Symon.
5:30am Cycling Versus - Tour de France: Stage 2 From Bruxelles to Spa