The Devon voice of The Tour of Britain
Posted on: 23 August 2012
Devon’s connections with The Tour of Britain extend beyond Stage Seven of this year’s race on Saturday 15 September.
Of course, there are some of the riders involved; Endura Racing’s Jon Tiernan-Locke, who won last year’s Skoda King of the Mountain’s Jersey, Team UK Youth’s Yanto Barker, and Team Sky’s Jeremy Hunt, all rode for the Mid Devon Cycling Club when growing up in the county.
But if you are attending the finish venues of any of the eight stages of this year’s Tour, starting in Ipswich on Sunday 9 September and finishing in Guildford on Sunday 16 September, you are bound to notice the unmistakeable voice and glasses of entertainer and commentator Joe Fisher, from Devon.
Crowd pleaser Joe, from Exeter, is the man tasked with whipping the masses into a frenzy as they eagerly await the world’s best riders. When the spectators start banging the boards it is Joe who helps build the atmosphere that makes The Tour such a unique event.
Joe was introduced to The Tour by Devon County Council, who host the Devon Stage, when the Council asked him to commentate on the warm-up events before the Tour Series cycle race in Exeter city centre in 2009. He was then asked by the organisers of The Tour to be the finish line commentator for all Tour Series and Tour of Britain stages, which he has done ever since.
“I like to call myself a ‘commentertainer’,”explains Joe. “It’s about passion and energising the crowd. Some commentators stay in a box and you never see them, but I come from an entertainment background; I’m an actor and comedian and I’d like to think I’ve brought that side of entertainment to sport and it’s a blend which works very well.
“I had been a sports announcer for a long time before getting involved with The Tour of Britain. I commentate on a lot of different sports but I love being involved in cycling. The banging on the boards by the crowds encapsulates the cycling atmosphere – and I’ve started Mexican board banging instead of a Mexican wave! It makes my job much easier when the crowd respond to things like that.
“The Devon Stage is always special because it’s been my home for the past 20 years, I love the area and I’m passionate about the South West. It’s always one of the biggest crowds and, of course, I like coming home.”
Joe’s energetic style has seen him just finish a stint at the recent Olympic Games, but his impressive CV also includes the Tour de France roadshow in the run up to the Prologue in London in 2007, as well as the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, and a range of other major sporting events including football and triathlon.
Joe adds: “Two weeks working as an announcer at Old Trafford for the Olympic football was fantastic. The kudos of the event made the atmosphere very different from any other football match – the crowd were really up for it.
“Without doubt cycling has changed from five years ago when I did the Tour de France London roadshow. Back then, it was still very much a niche audience but now there has been a massive increase in people coming to watch cycling. It’s become much more popular, the cyclists are more well-known, and I think the Tour Series and Tour of Britain have encouraged that as well.”
The Devon Stage, which is the penultimate Stage of this year’s Tour, will start in Barnstaple at 10:15am and heads through Dartmoor National Park before finishing in Dartmouth.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: “We’re proud of Devon’s involvement in The Tour of Britain, and it’s great that Joe plays such an important part in that. He always ensures an electric atmosphere among the crowds at the finish line and it’s fair to say that really adds to the sense of occasion as the spectators cheer home the best riders in the world.”
Daily highlights of The Tour of Britain will be screened every evening on ITV4.
The 16 competing teams are:
- AN Post Sean Kelly Cycling Team (Ireland)
- Endura Racing (Great Britain)
- Euskaltel Euskadi (Spain)
- Garmin – Sharp (USA)
- Liquigas – Cannondale (Italy)
- Node4 Giordana Racing (Great Britain)
- Orica GreenEDGE (Australia)
- Rapha Condor (Great Britain)
- Saur Sojasun (France)
- Team IG – Sigma Sport (Great Britain)
- Team NetApp (Germany)
- Team Raleigh – GAC (Great Britain)
- Team Sky Pro Cycling (Great Britain)
- Team UK Youth (Great Britain)
- United Healthcare Pro Cycling Team (USA)
- Vacansoleil DCM (Netherlands)