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Le Tour 2010: A Whole New Ballgame

Le-tour_mediumThis week we have kicked off our Tour de France coverage for 2010. In fact, starting right now we will predict the podium, final time gaps, winners of every stage, and... Ok, wait, it's still June. Let's back up.

Today Gavia and I are here to warn you that for the next month or so the Podium Cafe won't look like it always does. 2010 may already be the year the PdC turned pro, but if you think we've been ramping it up before now, wait til you see what we have in store for the Tour. New stuff. And Organization. Don't worry, it won't bite. The deets...

First and foremost, the community. Every year at this time we welcome new visitors whose interest in cycling peaks in July. We have a long-standing tradition of warm welcomes here, so I look forward to another month of new potential recruits to the Truth (cycling is better than your soon-to-be-former favorite sport). Like last year, there will be lots of visitors not normally found here, thanks to a content-sharing arrangement we do with Yahoo! Sports. These visitors will bring varying levels of knowledge with them, from very high to newbies. It's a big world out there.

With this in mind, we're implementing some ideas to make the Podium Cafe a little more accessible to people who don't know Iban Mayo from Iban Mayoz and aren't inclined to take advice from a cartoon zombie goat. Sure, if you stick around the Cafe long enough it will all make sense (using loose definitions of "all" and "sense"). But people are busy, so we're going to make the presentation a little more... immediately sensible. 

  • Picture_3_mediumMost obvious to all will be how we present stages. Rather than having several pieces to it, our stage coverage will be found on the front page with a single post containing brief info regarding the course, pre-stage analysis and live threads. [Working title is "Daily Digest" so far. So sample image, right.] When we go live with the stage coverage (usually about an hour after the previous stage finishes), you'll see the Stage box appear with the information that's ready (previews) and links to the underlying pieces with longer descriptions. For example, Gavia's pre-stage analysis will start with a sentence or two in the stage box and a link to the whole piece. As other pieces to the stage presentation such as live threads or the post-stage post come into existence, a link will be created in the live stage box.
  • None of these stage posts will appear on the front page. From the front page you will find them by using the stage box links. However, we have a new section entitled "Tour de France" where you can see everything in the usual list-of-posts format, in case there's any confusion or you just like our usual info dump style better.
  • We also have a new sidebar box linking to our opening Tour Guide (a rundown of Tour-centered features) and to the Tour de France section front page.
  • I am working on a new recurring feature, which goes back to the above discussion, called Know Your Tour! For each stage, I will be writing a short post explaining some of the background information -- basics about how classifications work, and other rules, but also digging deeper into some of the less obvious things that make a grand tour what it is. Maybe a post on transfers or sprint positioning or peaking in the third week. The topics haven't been decided and I want to keep open the ability to change course and react to a topic as it arises. A lot of what I write in Know Your Tour! won't be news to hardcore fans, BUT! that doesn't mean you don't have a role. Neither I nor Gav is the keeper of the flame; that's a community thing, so as you see fit please correct or expound on the day's topic. Hopefully this will be a real service to budding fans who aren't getting everything they need from Phil and Paul.

Thanks as always for being patient as we constantly tinker with our format on the fly. And welcome to July! [Ignore your calendar.]