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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hooray for the sun!

It's good to see the sun out today for Stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California as the cyclists make their way from Merced to the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, but still a distance from the glory of Yosemite National Park. I remember the stretch of California 140 the cyclists are on now from my visit to Yosemite in 2004, when I took a bus from Merced to Yosemite.

Unfortunately, the weather has almost been as big of a story as Levi Leipheimer's effort to win a third straight Tour of California or Lance Armstrong's strong fourth-place showing.

The San Jose Mercury News noted the sogginess has led some to suggest switching the event to spring. A window has opened in April or May with the recent cancellation of Tour of Georgia, one of three major U.S. tours. But moving the Tour of California to spring would force a scheduling conflict with many of the world's best cyclists. It would dilute the field and diminish the tour's prestige.

"One of the most important races in the world should be in North America," said Andrew Messick, president of event owner Anschutz Entertainment Group. "That's our journey."

The wretched weather also has played havoc with Versus' coverage of the event.
For three straight days, the race's fix-winged aircraft carrying the communications and broadcast technology couldn't fly. As a result, Versus hasn't been able to provide the expansive live coverage it had planned.

On top of that, it slowed the rides down so much that the race wasn't finished when Versus broke away to NHL coverage at 6 p.m. Central Time. That drew an angry response from Armstrong on his Twitter site.

I heard from lots of folks that Versus cut off Tour of California coverage for hockey. Lame!" Armstrong wrote.

Sadly, it's proof cycling still has a long ways to go on the American sports scene.

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