Tour de France, Le-2003: The Highlights (2003)

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Released 1-Oct-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Sports Main Menu Audio & Animation
Notes-Stage Index
Notes-Race Facts
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 186:56 (Case: 180)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (92:04) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor
SBS
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Mike Tomalaris
Phil Liggett
Paul Sherwen
Lance Amstrong
Baden Cooke
Robbie McEwen
Bradley McGee
Jan Ullrich
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, selected highlights from the tour

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Le Tour De France - what's that you say? A new movie by Luc Besson perhaps? Wait a minute, isn't this some sporting event they have that moves around France, sort of a roving Olympic Games? Wrong on all counts, sports fans! Guess what? There are sports out there besides Football, Rugby, Tennis, Cricket and a few others, although you can hardly be blamed for not realizing this, given that you'd be very lucky to hear about them in the Australian media.

    Le Tour De France is the world's premier cycling road race. It's an annual event and it's held in France during the European summer every year. It's not just a single race or even just a few races, but just like the name says it's a tour. It starts somewhere in France and ends 3 weeks later in Paris, occasionally venturing over the border into an adjacent country like Germany or Belgium. In 2003, the centenary year of the event, the riders got to race in 21 stages, consisting of 10 flat stages, 7 mountain stages, 2 individual time trials, 1 team time trial and a prologue. In all, those that completed the event covered more than 3,400 km over the public roads of France. Besides individual stage victories, the riders and teams compete for various prizes, the most prestigious of which is the Yellow Jersey. This is the prize awarded to the individual rider who has covered the total race distance in the shortest time and is awarded after each intermediate stage to the leading rider until after the final stage when it rests on the shoulders of the overall winner. There is also a Green Jersey which is the sprinter's prize and is awarded to the rider who has collected the most points during the race. Points are awarded for finishing place as well as at number of intermediate sprint locations in each stage. Like the Yellow Jersey, the Green Jersey is awarded to the rider with the most points thus far after the completion of each stage until it too rests on the shoulders of the overall winner. The best climber, or King of The Mountains, Red Polka Dot Jersey is similarly awarded based on points awarded according to the riders based on their positions as they reach the top of  the various climbs.

    There were a number of Australians competing in the various teams entered in the event, including Robbie McEwen, Baden Cooke, Bradley McGee, Michael Roberts and Stuart O'Grady, all of whom were looking for stage wins and an opportunity to wear one of the jerseys. Many of the Aussies also stood a fair chance of wining the Green Jersey as Robbie McEwen did in 2002. The Aussies made a stunning start with Bradley McGee winning the Prologue to see him the first rider in 2003 to wear the Yellow Jersey and as the first winner he actually gets all three major jerseys. The first stage was then won by Baden Cooke and McGee finished well enough to see him hold on to the Yellow Jersey. Meanwhile, Robbie McEwen had earned himself the points necessary to wear Green.

    However, the real interest was in the race for the overall winner of the Yellow Jersey. Would the American rider Lance Armstrong be able to win the saught after prize for the fifth consecutive year? This is a feat only achieved 4 times thus far in the 100 year history of the race by those that have become the great names in road cycling: Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain. The real competition for Armstrong came in the form of  the big German rider Jan Ullrich, making a come back to the sport after injury, and a rider who had never finished in any of his 5 previous tours in worse than 2nd place. A worthy battle was in the making.

    Le Tour De France: 2003 The Highlights is a must-have in the collection of any cycling fan. The content is sourced from the half hour highlight coverage that was provided this year on SBS television during each of the race days. An excellent blow by blow commentary is provided by Phil 'The Voice of Cycling' Liggett, Mike Tomalaris and Paul Scherwen. One comment I would like to make to the people at SBS in respect to the coverage that they provide is that while the coverage is much appreciated, there has been a noticeable trend over the last few years to spend more and more time on aspects of the race other than the action on the road and while this background material is nice, it's the on-road action that we are tuning in to see.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Unfortunately, this transfer, which has been sourced from videotape, leaves much to be desired in the area of quality. Given that this is a live sporting event, you do have to make allowances for the difficulty involved in capturing the material and forgive some poor focus, jerky shots and the occasional dropout of the signal transmitted between the cameras mounted on motor bikes and the like, but still, the overall quality mostly didn't exceed that of a VHS tape.

    The picture is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is therefore not 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness and shadow detail are both quite variable. Sharpness in particular left a lot to be desired with most images of the race lacking fine detail. Pre and post race material was much better in this regard. Edge enhancement was noticed at times. There was no evidence of  low level noise.

    The colour palette was bright and vivid and did a wonderful job of capturing the beautiful and varied French countryside as well as the colourful uniforms of the riders.

    Aliasing is rife on this disc and never missed an opportunity to make an appearance. The most interesting artefacts were provided by what appeared to be some ants marching across the camera lens at 11:44 and 19:25! As the material was sourced from videotape, the traditional film artefacts were absent. There was a significant amount of macro blocking present. Gibb Effect was also present and is most noticeable in the text showing the race results which is presented at the end of each stage.

    No subtitles streams have been provided on this disc. Some interviews with riders were carried out in their native languages and in these cases burned in subtitles were provided.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change occurring at 92:04 during Chapter 22. It is quite fast but still noticeable as everything freezes briefly.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    As you might expect, the audio from this live broadcast is nothing outstanding, however it is perfectly adequate for the task.

    Only a single English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded audio track is provided. For the most part, the audio is effectively mono with everything emanating from the centre speaker.

    The dialogue was always clear and easy to understand. I wasn't aware of any particular problems with the audio sync.

    There was music, but not much of it. It was only heard on a few occasions such as during the little segment that provided a break between each day's racing and right at the end during a nice little montage of key highlights of the race.

    The surrounds only came into play for the limited musical score.

    The subwoofer had the night off, and honestly, it wasn't missed..

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras are limited to several pages of race facts and a very nice stage index based around a map of the race route that allows you to select the stage you want to view.

Menu

    The menu is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is supported by animation as well as Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded audio.

Notes-Stage Index

    This was rather nifty. Effectively it's the equivalent of a chapter selection menu and is based on a map of France that shows the entire race route. When you select an area the map zooms in and allows you to select the stages from that area. Once you select a stage another menu pops up that gives you some details of the stage including the distance travelled and the name of the winner. From this menu you can select to view the stage or the post stage footage. Like everything else on the disc this is displayed in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. There is no audio.

Notes-Race Facts

    This is several text pages of facts about the race including a complete listing of the final placing of all the riders in the overall classification..

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As far as I can determine this disc is not available in any region but ours.

Summary

    Le Tour De France: 2003 The Highlights is a must have in the collection of any cycling fan. What better way is there to relive the event than to watch the highlights one more time?

    The video quality left a lot to be desired.

    The audio quality is quite adequate for the job.

    The are just a couple of extras to round out the package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Peter Cole (Surely you've got something better to do than read my bio)
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-655A [SACD & DVD-A], using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-995
SpeakersFront L&R - B&W DM603, Centre - B&W LCR6, Rear L&R - B&W DM602, Sub - Yamaha YST-SW300

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