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Friday, July 04, 2008

Tour de France 2008

Part of the reason I include the news feed that I do in the right column of this blog is because I know sources such as VeloNews can provide much better coverage of the Tour de France than I can in this humble little blog. Nevertheless, here's my two cents worth on the race:

I'm extremely disappointed former Discovery Channel riders Alberto Contador, the defending champion, and Levi Leipheimer, who finished third, won't be there because of the decision of Tour de France to exclude Team Astana from this year's event because of the team's past doping transgressions.

I suppose one could argue that Contador, Leipheimer and former Discovery manager Johan Bruyneel should have had some clue that Astana would be targeted for punishment, but I don't find it particularly fair that a restructured Astana team should be so severly punished for sins of previous team members.

With Leipheimer's absence, I have to wonder how much interest there will be in this year's Tour de France by casual cycling fans. The die-hard fans, of course, are going to care about the race, but the lack of an American among the major contenders will reduce coverage of the race by the mainstream media.

In addition to the greatness of the race -- even a heavy-handed management style cannot rob the Tour de France of its splendor -- there are two American teams in this year's race. One is Team Columbia, which includes former Discovery lieutenant George Hincapie, and Garmin-Chipotle, which is best known for its anti-doping stance. Christian Vande Velde is the best-known American on that team.

If your local newspaper or TV station provides inadequate coverage of the Tour de France, the three best sources are probably VeloNews, Versus and the Tour de France site itself. Versus, as always, will provide almost-constant TV coverage of the race. Gene Bisbee also provides a list of sources at his BikingBis blog.

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