The greatest cycling event in the world passed through London on Monday and a handful of the bmore team were lucky enough to witness it. But the end of the London stage was a drizzly affair, and each brave fan on the street saw 90 seconds of action at the most. Was it worth it, or can digital media offer a comparable experience? Let’s pit the street against the screen to find out.

Action vs. anticipation

This was not your average stroll along the river – the crowds were out in force, excited by over 200 of the best road cyclists being just a few moments away.

But as a few moments turned into 45 minutes, there were marked fluctuations in the excitement. Meanwhile, TV cameras on the road and in the air gave the viewers at home a consistent view of the action – not to mention blanket coverage on social media.

Screen 1-0 Street

Ad breaks vs. freebies

One downside to watching the tour on TV is the ad breaks – and no matter how charmingly chaotic Skoda make their ads, they’ll still leave some cycling fans anxious about missing out.

Advertising was present at the event itself, with the publicity caravan and merchandise vans giving sponsors a prominent presence. But rather than getting in the way, this presence added to the tour’s sense of occasion.

Screen 1-1 Street

Expert commentary vs. casual spectator

A great thing about the tour is its wide appeal, and people from all walks of life lined the streets to watch – égalité indeed. But casual spectators are unlikely to teach each other much, other than “selfies cause crashes”. Let’s leave the commentary to the experts.

Screen 2-1 Street

Comfy chair vs. Instagram gold

The luxury of your own sofa and a roof over your head may be comfortable, but how many memories will you have of the 2014 tour?

Wouldn’t you rather be in the scrum of smartphones and SLRs attempting to capture the perfect shot of a fast-moving cyclist through a forest of umbrellas? It’ll all be worth it when those Instagram love hearts start filling your screen.

Screen 2-2 Street

“I watched it on TV” vs. “I was there”

This is where the fundamental difference between the two experiences becomes clear. No matter how encompassing the on-screen experience of non-stop TV and social media coverage, you still can’t say you were there.

Screen 2-3 Street

So there you have it – the live experience is still worth battling the crowds for.

But it’s still a narrow win for the street, and the digital world is offering more and more opportunities to get closer to the event. Will the screens come out on top next year?

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