Record TV ratings for the Tour of Flanders
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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Record TV ratings for the Tour of Flanders

by Conal Andrews at 8:05 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders

In an indication of cycling’s ongoing popularity in Belgium, a record number of viewers tuned in to watch Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen go head to head in Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.

The average audience for the live broadcast of the race was 1,108,291, almost 20,000 higher than the previous record set when Boonen beat Leif Hoste and George Hincapie (both Discovery Channel) in 2006. This represented an audience share of 74 percent, with the number reaching its highest level close to the finish.

The outcome was perhaps not ideal for the Belgian fans, given that Boonen was dropped by Cancellara and had to be content with second place. However the supporters appreciated his efforts and gave the Quick Step rider a massive cheer when he rolled in, exhausted, for that runner-up slot.

There is expected to be a very significant amount of interest in this weekend’s Paris-Roubaix, where the two will have a rematch on the cobbles of Northern France.

Belgian fans are regarded as amongst the most knowledgeable and passionate in cycling, and the sport receives massive media coverage. The success of riders such as Boonen and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma Lotto), third on Sunday, plus a thriving cyclo-cross scene has helped the sport to grow.

Indeed, the top five viewing figures for Flanders have all occurred since 2000, showing that interest is expanding all the time. That’s good news for sponsors, riders and fans of the sport.


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