London Spy

BBC apologise for “appalling” cycling coverage

London Spy

View photo

Cyclists pedal along Box Hill during the Men's Road Cycling race at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. Alexander Vinokourov

Cyclists pedal along Box Hill during the Men's Road Cycling race

The BBC has been forced to apologise for its "appalling" coverage of the men's cycling road race on the opening day of the Olympics.

Viewers were left baffled and angry by the repeated mistakes, poor audio and a lack of graphics to show how the riders were standing throughout.

The race was won by Kazakhstan's Alexandr Vinkourov after Mark Cavendish and the rest of the Team GB riders were left behind by a breakaway group, but viewers were left guessing as to how big the gap was until the very end.

And as if that weren't enough, the commentary team of Chris Boardman, Jill Douglas, Ed Leigh, Hugh Porter and Jamie Staff consistently struggled to identify riders, and even announced three riders had come third, fourth and fifth when they had in fact finished far down the field.

BBC presenters Jake Humphrey and Gary Lineker both apologised for the problems, with Lineker blaming the fact that "the coverage is from a pool of broadcasters from across the world."

Fans were not soothed by such excuses, however, with the corporation running into a huge backlash on Twitter: "BBC cycling commentary and coverage absolutely appalling … no time checks and misidentified riders," wrote one viewer, while another said it was, "literally the worst commentary I have ever heard. Embarrassingly bad coverage."

Even Paralympian cycling world champion Colin Lynch, clearly profoundly embarrassed by the potential damage to his sport's reputation as an engrossing television spectacle.

"If you're watching cycling for the first time today on TV, I promise — it usually has much better coverage and commentary. Don't be put off."

In a statement the BBC blamed Olympic host broadcaster OBS, who in turn complained that the problems were down to LOCOG who had failed to provide timing graphics.

View comments (567)