Saturday, February 14, 2009

Tour of California 2009 Prologue: Be Still My Beating Heart

Am I really going to do this again? A relevant question on so many levels, but I find myself with excess energy after watching the boys start things off in California, so here I am.

Reading the end of the start list this morning, I couldn't help but get a lump in my throat. It wasn't entirely good or bad, just quite a sight to see all those names together. Whatever else, they can all ride the heck out of their bikes, and each year the pipe dream of a level playing field gets slightly more reasonable. Sort of. Maybe. Just a little.

I've always loved Fabian Cancellara, but a bad taste lingers from his odd behavior last year when the rumors were flying. So, not quite as much fun to watch his typical mad dash, but still impressive I suppose. Levi Leipheimer still wins for best face on the start ramp, his eyes were positively popping, good enough for second on the day. Dave Zabriskie of my beloved Garmin-Slipstream coming in a very nice third, great effort and hopefully a good start to a healthy season!

Svein Tuft of Garmin also looking good, he strikes me as someone who will not let the hype get in the way and will just get down to business. George Hincapie was none too happy with his result, but sixth in this field is nothing to sneeze at. Or else he was mad about those ugly-ass kits Columbia is sporting this year. I guess some people like them, but I just don't see it. Floyd Landis looked a bundle of anticipation on the start ramp, understandably so. No matter what, he paid a far bigger price than he ought to have, and I hope he settles into the race and has a good season. Yes, I'm the one who backed Paul Kimmage against Lance yesterday, but hey, we can't agree on everything.

As for the coverage, things got off to a rollicking good start with the unintentional comic stylings of Phil and Paul, unaware that the audio was live on the Tour Tracker site. Sniffing, slurping, swearing, name-calling, putting on American accents - it was quite the hoot. Rather more enjoyable than when they realized they were on air and went back into clich├ęd announcer mode.

Fortunately we soon had Frankie Andreu on the website, always my favorite commentator. They had ongoing audio difficulties, but when I could hear him Frankie was his usual insightful self. And the consummate professional, talking about Lance like he did any other rider. He and JoE Silva ran into their own open mic problems after the video ended, more fun stuff as we discovered they were not getting the best of information as they were commentating. Seriously, they have to do this open mic thing every day, it's highly entertaining!

Versus spent half their coverage on features, while actual racing was going on, but have to reintroduce the sport to the masses and all that, I suppose. Almost not worth bothering with them, but they had a couple of rider interviews, and once they got to the racing their feed was a bit ahead of online. I watch a few other sports, and I'm not saying no one else kisses ass, but it seems to me no other sport comes close to the charade of cycling commentary on Versus. It gets downright bizarre after awhile, really. I know he pays the bills, and he's why we get to see more live coverage this year, but can we not have a scintilla of objectivity, the least acknowledgment that he's not every fan's favorite? Eh, probably not.

Jersey confusion: smart move, Rabobank, you get an extra rider each day (provided the best young rider is not already on Rabobank). We'll see if it makes for confusing viewing. Lance getting courageous rider - okay, it's sponsored by the cancer thing, so I suppose it was inevitable, but I think they should've left it for tomorrow, like the KOM jersey.

No comments: