Ned Boulting: Tour de Ned
- Brian Donaldson
- 24 October 2018
Genial jaunt down the cobbled byways of 2018's Tour de France
After his first touring show, Bikeology, ITV commentator and two-wheeled buff Ned Boulting opted to take a swift left turn. Trying to create a show that would appeal to as many people within the cycling community as possible left him feeling that he needed to re-evaluate his focus. So, with his new show, Boulting has narrowed his subject matter right down to the 21 stages of this summer's Tour de France.
With such a decision, he will have inevitably lost a number who sampled his Bikeology, but on this tour he's appealing directly to those who are equally as obsessed as he is with the cobbled roads and high-stakes sprinting that make the Tour de France one of sport's most enduring adventures.
Entering his venue and racing down the aisle on a shoogly two-wheeler, he catches his breath to quickly throw names around such as Peter Sagan, Nairo Quintana, Adam Yates and Richie Porte. Boulting certainly has his favourites: Mark Cavendish and Chris Boardman are treated to god-like status while Chris Froome is seen as a largely uninteresting oddball (though Boulting is certainly on the Kenya-born rider's side during the unpleasant episodes when he was pepper-sprayed by one gendarme and thrown from his bike by another just a day later).
Aided by a plethora of clips, Boulting tells most of his tale relatively straight, albeit with the same passion that he brings to the commentary box. He does throw in a few entertaining curveballs to keep the crowd on its toes, such as his notion of the Tour's rather stuffy founder Henri Desgrange returning to haunt this year's event. With a cheeky rather than biting humour driving proceedings, the closest he might have come to upsetting anyone is with his prodding of co-commentator David Millar. Insisting with quote marks that Millar is 'Scottish', there are two amusing references to his colleague's notorious doping past.
A thoroughly professional and engaging presence, Ned Boulting is fine company for a couple of hours and his enthusiasm for his topic is infectious. Whether he aims to spread his appeal on his next stage foray remains to be seen.
Ned Boulting: Tour de Ned is on tour until Saturday 17 November. Seen at Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh