By Bryan Jew, VeloNews managing editor
After four weeks off, there’s still a lot to catch up on, such as, why is Krispy Kreme developing a low-sugar donut? For the health-conscious? Um, excuse me, it’s a donut. Reminds me of the vegan “donuts” you get with a vegetarian breakfast on the airplane (not that they ever serve breakfast on a plane anymore, or that I would ever admit to eating a vegetarian airline meal). If anything, in this age of downsized super-sizing, shouldn’t the donut industry strive to be the last bastion of truly fattening, bad-for-you eating? Here in Boulder, a new place has opened up with a sign out front announcing hot, toasted donuts. If they’re smothered in butter, I’m there.
As if Lance Armstrong and a CSC team led by a rejuvenated Bobby Julich weren’t enough, the Tour de Georgia got another big boost in stature when it was announced that SuperMario himself, Mario Cipollini, would be at the start line. Georgia organizers must be thanking their lucky stars that Domina Vacanze is sponsored by an American bike maker, Specialized. Assuming he actually shows, if Cipollini pulls out before the mountainous stage 5, that would put the Georgia race right up there with the Giro and the Tour. (If he drops out after the first stage, well, that would be right up there with last year’s Vuelta).
Was it really just a couple of years ago that teams like Saeco, Lotto and Big Mat were showing up at Sea Otter? What happened? A quick look at the roster this year and it looks more like a California regional race than a UCI race. Sure, some of the prominent U.S. pro teams are there – Sierra Nevada, Health Net, Webcor – but where are U.S. Postal, Navigators, Jelly Belly, Colavita and Jittery Joe’s?
After last year’s problematic road stage race, the Sea Otter has retreated a bit, with the road event down to just three stages – a prologue and two road stages. Meanwhile, with the Tour de Georgia starting just three days after Sea Otter finishes, many teams felt it would be logistically too difficult to haul team cars and equipment all the way from California in time for the TdG start in Macon. So, no Euros, no Postal, no Navs … but Team Lucky Lounge does get to step up to the plate in Monterey.
When’s the last time you saw more women (80) than men (74) on the roster at a major U.S. road event?
One of those women should have an asterisk by her name, though. Kendra Wenzel, who was organizing the pro road event along with husband Rene, rode the prologue in order to fill out the Wells Fargo-Ragatz team roster. “Hey, it’s a full service race,” joked Wenzel in an e-mail to VeloNews. “Can’t fill your team? We’ll even race for you!”
Speaking of regressing, OLN’s slowly disappearing Paris-Roubaix coverage was a major letdown this year. Two years ago OLN had live coverage of the final hours of the race. Last year it was two hours of tape-delayed coverage, and this year’s coverage amounted to a one-hour, same-day re-cap show. Are we slowly headed back to the days when ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” showed three minutes of coverage two weeks after the fact?
The worst part was the decision to boil down the six-and-a-half hours of racing into the one-hour show, rather than simply showing the final hour of the race. With all that went on in the last 40km, it would have made for compelling sports television. Instead, viewers were left with about 30 minutes of confused, muddled actual race footage in which it was difficult to discern what was going on in the race.
Coverage of the Masters pro golf tournament provided a stark contrast. I watched only one hour over its four days – the hour right after Roubaix, which also happened to be the final hour of the tournament. Sure, the Masters had the benefit of a commercial-free broadcast, but still, the drama and tension over that one hour leading up to the final hole was a sad reminder of what the Roubaix coverage could have been.
While the Masters had the drama, and Roubaix was watchable at best, last night saw an amazing example of a program going from compelling to practically unwatchable in a matter of seconds.
Yes, I got sucked into “The Apprentice” over the past couple of weeks, and yes, I watched most of last night’s finale. But when the final boardroom set dissolved into a TV studio and “The Donald” started reading off the teleprompter … brutal. I thought I was back in the ’90s watching the “Magic Johnson Show.”
And I’m still waiting for the return of “Tough Enough.”
Next week: A review of hot, toasted donuts, or a behind-the-scenes look at used cycling socks being sold on the Internet.
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