many of you will know anthony mccrossan from his live commentary at events such as the tour of britain, as well as his partnership with brian smith in the commentary booth at cycling.tv - two of the most entertaining and knowledgeable chaps in the world of cycling. (and they're like that in real life too.)
anthony's involvement in cycling.tv encompassed not only the commentating but, up until 14th december, he was the station's commercial director. now he's gone solo, so thewashingmachinepost asked him what lies ahead...
after being at cycling.tv for two years latterly as commercial director, you've decided to branch out on your own. why now?
The building of Cycling.tv was a challenge that I very much wanted to take on for very clear reasons. Firstly, I was building my profile and experience as a commentator having worked for many events including the Tour of Britain, Cycle show, had worked for British Eurosport a few times on San Sebastian and other events and in my spare time I had been helping with the early voiceovers of Cycling.tv events and also doing reportage at some of the Premier Calendars. Cycling.tv was new and somewhere to test my ability and build experience as a commentator. Over the last 2 years I have commentated on the best races in the world bar the Tour de France and I have had the pleasure of building a strong commentary team with Brian Smith. That side of being at Cycling.tv will remain and by being freelance it means I am free to work on any event, anywhere in the world.
What many viewers dont know is that prior to taking the plunge with Cycling.tv to pursue commentary, I was a Director at a recruitment company called Reed. So I had a lot of commercial experience, particularly of the large blue chip style company, as my team managed all Reed's major business contracts. I was on the board of Cycling.tv and with the sale to Jump TV, it gave me the chance to sit back and work out my next challenge commercially, and I felt it was time to go it alone. It just feels right. My aim to build the business (Cycling.tv) and get it to sale, had been achieved in my mind and now I think I can add value commercially to projects in the cycling world. I'm used to pitching to boards for contracts, money and now with my experience in Cycling.tv, I feel I have something more to offer.
over the past year or so, brian smith and anthony mccrossan have become one of the premier pairings in cycling commentary. will that remain the same?
Do you know, the first time I met Brian at the Tour of Britain a few years ago, I knew he would be a perfect analyst in a commentary team? We have such a brilliant time commentating and I think that comes across to viewers. In the UK we're not so well known, but when we go to the USA our reception is fantastic - I think we have made an impact there, and we certainly don't see ourselves splitting up the double act, but certainly see this as a long term thing. More importantly, he has become a great friend of mine and that's an asset when you commentate.
i was surprised to discover an anthony mccrossan website - is this about to become mccrossan web headquarters for future developments?
People always said to me that you should have a website before you need it. So it was designed about 18 months ago. The team at Peloton in Bristol did it for me. At the moment it is just somewhere to say what I do and what I can offer events, media companies etc. It is more likely to become part of a wider company website, as opposed to being the focal point for what I do. But it is seeing more and more traffic and I guess I should be using it as a link to a blog and other information - any suggestions welcomed!
while it's early days yet, having only just left cycling.tv in mid-december, what does the future hold as a solo artist?
Well already some interesting projects have appeared which has given me the confidence that the move is the right one but only time will tell. I have got some events lined up to host in January such as the Fishers trade event so my commentating will expand in days not diminish! Also - the season isn't too far away, so Brian and I will be back on computer screens very soon. Meanwhile, I am going to spend time building up clients commercially when I am not commentating or hosting events, team launches or travelling.
with your on-camera experience, is there likely to be any tv/film work of an independent nature appearing on anthonymccrossan.com (separate from cycling.tv)
At the moment I dont have any plans to add video or film to that website, but going freelance does mean that I will utilise the Cycling.tv production team for cycling related film ventures as a first port of call, and with so much experience in this arena, I certainly plan to actively pursue production related projects.
a bit like the group member that leaves and releases a solo album, will this give you a sense of freedom that you've always wanted, or will it be freedom that has been thrust upon you?
Are you trying to liken me to Gary Barlow or Robbie? Seriously, I think this move is giving me the freedom to bring my skills together and pursue my areas of interest. It has probably happened a year earlier than I envisaged when I started at Cycling.tv, but I have always been someone who looks at things as opportunities, and I am looking forward to 2008 with a real eagerness.
do you see the future always concentrating on cycling, or is there likely to be some lateral movement into other areas?
Never say never. Principally, I am a mad keen cycling fan who gets paid to talk about it. I am extremely lucky and try never to forget that - a few weeks ago I was standing at the top of the Col Du Tourmalet on a Wednesday filming a piece about the Etape with Geoff Thomas and the guys from Science in Sport, and it hit me how lucky I was to be doing what I was doing that day. However, last year, for instance, I was asked to be one of the trackside commentators at the F1 British Grand Prix, but I couldnt do it, so you never know what might happen. Look at Hugh Porter - he commentates on all sorts of sports - even Wakeboarding!
your broad knowledge of cycling has come across in all the stuff i've known you to be involved in - is your passion for cycling still as high as ever?
I love the sport. I love the colour, the excitement and the stories that this sport has. Brian says he can see a keenness in me that is now higher than ever. This year at Gent-Wevelgem he said I didn't breathe for a kilometre, as I was so excited at the finish! I can see a lot of positive things happening in this sport. Don't get me wrong - there have been some pretty awful moments in the last two years. For instance I interviewed Ivan Basso quite a few times and got to know him pretty well before his admission - that hits you. And during the Tour De France in 07 I spent four days on CNN, CBS, BBC and Sky talking about Rasmussen. But you can see the work that is being done and you can see the attitude of the peloton changing - I think that is positive, and I want to be part of the sport as it develops from the point it is at now. Business people like Bob Stapleton at High Road, and Doug Ellis at Slipstream are investing in it to support the change, so I can see progress and opportunity.
the week before christmas you popped over to oregon to host an evening with chris horner. do things like that just happen, or are there serious machinations in the background to make them happen?
That event was fantastic and I want to do more of them. It was an evening in Bend, Oregon with Chris Horner (right), Megan Elliott, Chrissy Ruiter, Carl Decker and Adam Craig. All are professional cyclists who live in the city. We had a sell-out audience of 400 people in the local theatre, and I hosted a kind of two hour live chat show. The riders were very funny and we covered loads of subjects - I think we could have done another hour at least! It is similar to the events I have put together for Mick Bennett at Cycle in London with Nicole Cooke and others. They don't just happen - these events need promoters to sort out the logisitics and sell the tickets, but I am always involved in the look and feel of the event, and how it is presented. That event was promoted by Beverly Lucas formerly Marketing Manager at Felt Bikes. We worked together on this, so she achieved what she wanted, and we raised money for a local club and charity. This type of event is another reason to be freelance, and I am happy to help any other event promoters work out how to do this sort of thing.
while commentating is hardly a competitive sport, do you get on well, with david harmon, duffers, phil liggett et al?
Were you not at the Braveheart ride or on London Paris - Harmon and I needle each other on the bike all the time! It is 1-1 at the moment - he was first in L2P, I was first in Braveheart! To answer you seriously, though, I think it is fantastic that we lead in English speaking cycling commentary in this country. I get on well with all of the guys you mention. We tend to not see each other a lot, but when we do we share information and stories and help each other. We have a great banter together. Some commentators have helped me with excellent advice: David Duffield for one, always used to give me little tips when I was starting which helped a lot. Hugh Porter makes me cry with laughter when working with him on the Tour of Britain - there is never a dull moment. We have built up a real mutual respect. I also had good advice from Danny Nelissen on my first ever live commentary, and the likes of Dave Towle in the USA are good fun to work with.
are you sorry to leave your position at cycling.tv - was it a hard decision to make?
No not at all, when you have achieved your commercial objectives, then a decision like that is easy. I made it the way most good decisions are made, on my bike. After Interbike in Vegas I went to France for a week and rode my bike every day, and by the time I came home, I had decided to go it alone commercially and started negotiations. On the commentary front, nothing changes.
moving on to later this year, you've mentioned the probability of a team for the 2008 london paris. there's two of us entered from velo club d'ardbeg - who are we up against?
Put it this way - it will be a crack team - bar me! Pete Slater from Science in Sport and few others I cant mention yet! Oh and I am trying to get Brian to ride too. I have entered him but he doesnt know yet!
and will this mean moving up a group from this past year in order to fight for the jerseys?
That depends on how my training goes - the front group looked pretty sharp last year!
bearing in mind the sartorial elegance displayed each day of the 2007 london-paris ride, will there be a mccrossan team strip?
We are working on a team strip but I can't give anything away yet!
will you and brian continue to be involved in the tour of britain in 2008?
Yes is the short answer to that question. The race is developing fast and there is a great team of people working to bring that event together. There is so much involved to allow just those few days of racing to happen. I think the race will go from strength to strength and I want to remain a part of it.
i generally ask everyone this but, money no object, what frame/bike do you buy?
It would have to be a Cervelo, with Zipps in it - full carbon speed machine. Oh I would also want a pair of those new Speedplay really lightweight pedals on it too. If I was to go retro I would want a Masi. I have one in my garage that I am doing up. You remember the red one in Breaking Away? Boyhood dream stuff - thats what I have.
and how is your competence in the mechanical stakes? if the bike broke while out training, can you wield a spanner with ease or is it straight to the bike shop?
I can wield a spanner - when I was a junior and schoolboy I used to spend all my time taking my bike apart and putting it back together. I would say however that technology has moved on so much, and I have so little time, that I generally go and see Pete Hargroves in Southampton, hand him the bike and get him to fix it!
anthony mccrossan photos: nick hanmer - london-paris 2007..........................................................................................................................................................................................................