It’s a road crash for the BBC and British cycling as ace sprinter Mark Cavendish is left in the blocks

Let’s give Danny Boyle’s Olympic opening extravaganza ‘A’ for effort (you probably had to be there as opposed to watching it on TV) but the BBC and the British Olympic team have hardly got off to a wonderful start.

The shoe-in gold medal in the cycling road race for ace sprinter Mark Cavendish failed to materialise today as the hot favourite GB team cocked up their tactics completely, allowing a breakaway to emerge which caught them completely cold. They blamed their failure to catch up on their rivals (huh?). Clearly they’re not as good without the Sky team radios they enjoyed in the Tour de France.

But the BBC’s coverage of the race was a disgrace.

There was no information for viewers about the gap between the various groups of riders or who, even, was in them. Commentators Hugh Porter and Chris Boardman were spitting tacks (and made to sound extremely foolish) as they had no idea who was winning and by how much.

Eurosport and ITV seem to be able to do this when they cover the Tour and other races. Why on earth can’t the BBC? The bloody thing went on for four hours, time to fix a technical fault, surely?

Well let’s hope it gets better from here on in.

Should one fear the worst though? The British team, closing the interminable procession of teams around the Olympics arena in the opening ceremony last night, were wearing white outfits with very obvious gold shoulder flashes (above). These may or may not have been designed by Stella McCartney – nobody seems sure.

Unless this was a gesture to transatlantic ocean liner stewards circa 1935, it was presumably meant to imply that they’d be winning loads of gold medals. I believe this is called a hostage to fortune.

As for the Beeb it had better up its game and fast. Its job at the Olympics is to report the Games comprehensively and accurately. Not round up as many faux celebs as it can.

Its coverage of the cycling road race was the worst possible start.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.