Future’s road cycling magazines and websites shift into top gear this month as all attention focuses on France. John Stevenson, editor-in-chief of the sports group, goes behind the scenes...

OFF THE RADAR: What happens on Tour…

To demonstrate what a mighty cycling media empire we are, I asked the editors and key staff members of Procycling, Cycling Plus, BikeRadar.com and Cyclingnews.com to detail the writers and photographers they’d be using to cover the Tour and what they would personally be up to.

Procycling deputy editor Ellis Bacon says: “As well as top Belgian snapper Tim De Waele recording the race through the medium of photography, Procyclingwill be represented by myself, Peter Cossins and Daniel Friebe in various combinations of two across the three weeks.”

“My role will be to interview riders in the start village when they can’t talk because they’re too busy eating crepes, and to interview riders on the finish line when they’re too knackered to talk and feel like crap.

“I will also be arguing with Daniel over the map as to where our hotel is, and won’t be doing any of the driving.

“And we shall no doubt take care of our (nearly) award-winning daily podcasts for a third straight year, which is always a good excuse for not getting magazine features back to the office in a timely fashion.”

The most Tour-hardened member of the team, out-going editor Peter Cossins gets straight to priorities. “My role will be to make sure there’s someone around who knows the fastest way to the free press buffet every day and knows how to get the car back to the UK without reversing it into a concrete bollard at high speed,” he says.

“I’ll also be trying to get the free dinner and wine that Tim De Waele has promised me.

“On a more serious level, I’ll be trying to get Lance Armstrong to speak to the world by any means other than his Twitter account, attempting to get Alberto Contador to say something controversial – anything at all, it needn’t even be about cycling –and hoping that Andy Schleck rides into Paris in yellow as I’ve got a big wedge on him at 11-1.”

Probably no publication at Future handles more words and pictures than Cyclingnews in July, with coverage including race reports, interviews, behind-the-scenes features, gear coverage and blogs.

Cyclingnews managing editor Daniel Benson is clearly feeling the pressure, and has convinced himself he’s Col Hannibal Smith.

“In 2009 a crack commando unit of Cyclingnews journalists and photographers will be sent to France to cover the biggest cycling race in the calendar, the Tour de France,” he says, puffing on a big cigar.

“I will lead the troops on the ground, with able support from lieutenants Gregor Brown, Hedwig Kroner and The Guardian’s Richard Moore.

“Along with a splinter group of mercenaries from Procycling magazine, Cyclingnews will be going behind the lines (towards the team buses) and talking to every rider that matters at the start of each stage, gathering post-race quotes and all the news, to bring the readers the most comprehensive and compelling coverage on the net.

“Back at Cyclingnews HQ, our homeland troops will be providing daily live coverage from every stage and posting results faster than anyone else.

“If you want race coverage, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, you should follow the Cyclingnewsteam.”

BikeRadar.com’s remit is to cover the whole spectrum of cycling, but it feels like nothing else matters in July. Editor Jeff Jones will be making tech reports his coverage focus.

“Our ace tech editor James Huang will be at the Tour to scope out the bikes and gear that the top pros use,” he says.

“His eagle eye is capable of spotting non-standard bits from 400 paces.

“My role will be making sure we have enough coffee in Bath. And chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

“Our US editor Gary Boulanger will be responsible for keeping the Tour news ticking over after the UK lot have knocked off and gone to the pub.”

In contrast with the glamorous life of Peter, Ellis, the Daniels and the other writers and shooters on the road, Cycling Plus editor Rob Spedding won’t be trekking round France for three weeks. “I’ll be watching it on telly,” he says. Someone has to stay home and make the tea. In the field, though, “we call on some brilliant freelancers to capture the excitement and stories at the Tour,” says Rob.

“Photojournalist Rob Lampard has been Cycling Plus’ man on the spot for the past seven years and always delivers great shots and brilliant stories. We’ll also be using images from multi-award-winning agency Photosport International.

“Our pre-Tour issue, on sale in early June, also boasts the writing talents of two men called Moore – Richard and Tim.

“Richard is the acclaimed cycling journalist and author of In Search of Robert Millarand Chris Hoy biog Heroes, Villains and Velodromes,while Tim is the renowned travel writer behind French Revolutions – a hilarious account of riding the TdF route – Nul Points, and Spanish Steps.”

It’s going to be a huge July.

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