Tour de France, Le-2004: The Highlights (2004)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Deleted Scenes-Extra Footage
|Year Of Production||2004|
|Running Time||232:40 (Case: 240)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||None Given|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.29:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.29:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, Logos are everywhere|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
I have had a casual interest in Le Tour de France and other bike racing for many years but never really been a huge fan. I haven't owned a bike since I was a kid and cannot be seen around the place in tight lycra. So, why am I reviewing this 2 disc set? Well, I decided that the only way to really understand this race (or more truthfully races) was to review this disc and immerse myself in it. I am really very glad that I did as it has been a fascinating and eye-opening experience. I have a new-found respect for this incredible event. I always knew it was a long race around France but I did not really understand what was involved until reviewing this 2 disc set.
The race itself is really made up of 20 smaller races spread over 23 days which takes the field of over 150 riders from Belgium, through northern France, down the west coast, up into the Pyrenees, across the south, up into the French Alps and then on into Paris and down the Champs Elysee. The course is different each year - what I have described here relates to the 2004 race, although some courses seem to be used every year. It totals over 3300 kilometres, which is an incredible distance to cover on leg power alone. Each stage is very different and they include hard slogs up mountains, time trials, team time trails, 200Km+ flat out racing and even time trials up mountains. Each stage has its own winner and for many riders this is the achievement of a lifetime. In fact, some riders try for years just to get accepted into one of the teams and start in the great race.
In terms of the overall race, there are four main categories; overall, climbs, sprints and youth. The overall classification is won by the person with the lowest total time over the 20 stages. The person leading this competition each day gets to wear a yellow jersey signifying they are in the lead, but at the end of the day if they are no longer in the lead they must relinquish it. The climb classification is a prize for the best mountain climber in the tour and points are awarded in the various climbs included in most stages. The leader here gets to wear a red polka dot jersey. The sprint stage is similar except that points are awarded for pre-designated sprint portions of each stage. The best sprinter in each of these gets points which go toward the final classification win. In this case, a green jersey is worn by the leader. Finally, young riders in the event can compete for a white jersey, which is again determined based upon total time.
So, the 2004 race involved the great Lance Armstrong of the US Postal team trying to win the race for a record sixth time in a row, however there were many other contenders for the title including Jan Ullrich (Armstrong's main rival for many years), Thomas Voekler (a young Frenchman who lead the race for 10 days), Ivan Basso and many more. The event saw about one third of the competitors drop out along the way due to injuries or fatigue. Other challenges they faced beside the race itself included bad rainy weather for the first week, extreme heat later in the race, cobblestones, mad idiots from the crowd and as one poor guy found out, posts by the side of the road. If you watch carefully in Stage 18 you will even see streakers! Amongst the sprinters the main contenders included two Australians, Robbie McEwen & Stuart O'Grady, who both got stage wins during the race in addition to being in contention for the green jersey. Actually this was a banner year for Australians, as they made up the largest contingent from any English-speaking country with 10 riders due to start the race.
In the end the race was won by Lance Armstrong, the green jersey by Australian Robbie McEwen, the climber's classification by Richard Virenque and the youth prize by Victor Karpets. The teamwork required to get these results is truly amazing - riding in a leading rider's team basically means that you give up any hope of winning yourself. Robbie McEwen's effort was particularly valiant as he crashed about four times during the race and sustained a number of injuries. Amongst the extra features is a small featurette about the treatment he received during the race.
This set contains about four hours of highlights of the race, which to my mind gave great coverage of the various stages without going over the top. Some great photography is included not only of the action but of the beautiful scenery as well. The extra features also add more depth to the coverage.
Overall, this is an excellent production and if this piques your interest is well worth a purchase.
The video quality is very good.
The feature is presented in a 1.29:1 aspect ratio which would be the original aspect ratio.
The picture was clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. There was some occasional light grain.
The colour was excellent and well saturated with no colour artefacts.
From an artefacts perspective, there were some mild MPEG compression artefacts. There was some aliasing on buildings and some minor jagged edges. The picture was occasionally affected by break-ups due to the technology used for cameras on motorbikes following the action, but this is obviously inherent in the original footage and not a problem with the transfer.
There are subtitle streams, however burned-in English subtitles are included for foreign language interviews.
The layer changes occur at 48:01 on Disc 1 and 57:18 on Disc 2 and are not particularly noticeable.
The audio quality is good.
This DVDs contain one audio option, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s.
Commentary was clear and easy to understand.
The surround speakers added some atmosphere when played using Dolby ProLogic II.
The subwoofer was not used.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu included a nice motif of racing jerseys in motion with a cool music underscore. It was clear and easy to use. The action was available either through a play race function or stage by stage using the stage index. The stage index also allows access to the extra footage mentioned below and gives some details of each stage including how long it is and the graded climbs along the way.
Three sections of extra footage are available on Disc 1 through the stage index which do not form part of the main feature. They are included in different stages as detailed below:
A map of the race from space featuring animation. Really well done and an excellent addition to the disc.
A text based collection of statistics including details of the final results for all competitors in the race, the top ten in the climb, sprint and youth races, details of the teams involved and an explanation and history of the various jerseys. Excellent stuff.
Again extra footage is available via the stage menu and are not included in the main feature. They are:
Various stuff-ups, joke interviews and some Robin Williams, being his usual self.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This set is only available in Region 4.
The video quality is very good.
The audio quality is good.
The disc has a good collection of extra material.
|DVD||Pioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output|
|Display||Sony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Bose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)|