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Airmiles

Thomas Voeckler’s got over 15,000km of racing in his legs this year. But other riders have more miles… air miles. 2010 has seen the sport start with the Tour Down Under, then go to the middle-east, travelling to California and last weekend saw two races in Canada. That’s before the Worlds in Australia. And don’t forget the Japan Cup.

For me it’s been a success. As usual Qatar wasn’t too exciting but serves its purpose and the new Tour of Oman revealed some stunning landscapes. The Tour of California is growing in stature and its slot on the calendar should be revisited to avoid a clash with the Giro.


Robert Gesink’s happy, the organisers even happier

More recently the weekend in Canada seems to have been a success, with even cynical sections of the local press admiring the spectacle with the harshest voices criticising the excessive promotion of the race, not the sport itself. Some of this was luck, the sport can sometimes throw up a freak result but this time big names won thanks to big attacks.

Next up comes the Worlds, a lengthy trip to Australia that starts with a warm-up race to test the legs before the actual Championships begin.

Plus ça change…
Let’s remember though that this isn’t the first time the sport has tried to venture abroad. We’ve seen racing in Canada at the end of the 80s and the Tour DuPont was a big race in America in the early 1990s. Closer to Europe Britain hosted a one day race as part of the World Cup. Races outside of Europe seem hard to get traction, they come but usually go. Time will tell if all this travel pays off but I have a feeling it will, the world as a whole is more integrated and the sport is wealthier, able to travel.

Looking ahead
One final thought on the spread of the race abroad: it needs to be co-ordinated. I’ve said already that the Tour of California should not have to go up against the Giro d’Italia and maintain this. Similarly, other new events need to be nurtured. But how far do we go? Should existing races in Europe be moved about, or even shortened? One solution would be to shrink the Tour of Switzerland from 10 days to a week. More radically, what about chopping five days off the Vuelta and Giro in order to free up 10 days on a crowded calendar. This would also allow riders to be less tired during the increasingly long season. I’m thinking aloud but it makes sense, no?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anonymous Monday, 13 September 2010, 11:54 am

    With the Giro being for me the best viewing experience as a spectator, i wouldn't want to see this race shortened. I agree that the Tour of Cali should move so it doesn't clash again with the giro like it did this year, will the viewing figures, crowds and media circus be still there without Lance in Cali?

  • TheInnerRing Monday, 13 September 2010, 12:09 pm

    The Giro is great to watch but I was just thinking allowed. A race organiser lives by TV rights sales and they will fight hard against the shrinking of their race, in reality it is almost impossible to cut back the Giro.

    …but would a two week Vuelta might be more tempting to more riders to bolster the field and attract more viewers?

  • david lewis Monday, 13 September 2010, 2:01 pm

    I was at the Montreal GP yesterday. Very well organized. Great vibe. The weather held out. And as a long time cycling geek (and very low rung ex racer), I've loved the sport for many moons, so, I got my geek on and under the premise of a trip with my lovely wife, booked a weekend in Montreal. Oh, surprise, I booked a room at the same hotel where the pros were. That was darn cool. Walked into one elevator filled with BMC boys, including big George. Had another trip with a Lotto rider (name escapes) – nice guy, friendly. Anyway, well done Montreal. It's the right city for a "classic" one-day race. Tough course, great crowd. And watching all these pro teams cruise around the city was cool. And bikes, oh the bikes.

  • TheInnerRing Monday, 13 September 2010, 2:34 pm

    Nice experience David, especially staying in the same hotel. I bet the wife was delighted!

  • david lewis Monday, 13 September 2010, 4:06 pm

    Ha, well, it was a nice hotel, and she did kinda know that it was part of the grand plan.

    Cyclists (except me I guess) are not her idea of "hot guys" – too skinny and bad tan lines! I told her they aren't all that scrawny!

    She laughed at me though … when the elevator door opened to the BMC guys, she said, I looked a bit like a little kid watching his idols. Hey, I have to admit, it was pretty darn cool to have all these pros cruising around – especially after decades of watching racing and seeing many of them from the early age until now.

    There was also a little kid (maybe 12) walking around the hotel with a Giro Livestrong helmet – I asked if he was going to get autographs. He said he did already, all the Radioshack guys. Easier to do when 12 than when 43. 😉

    Oh, and when Jens Voigt rode by, the crowd started screaming. Cool. Everyone loves Jens. Happy to send you a link to a bunch of shots I took if you like (sadly shot via handycam). Great blog by the way. Very well written. Cheers!

  • Anonymous Tuesday, 14 September 2010, 1:00 am

    Don't want to be a stick in the mud, but really, how successful was the Montreal GP? How are you measuring success? Crowd size? Walked the entire course, stopping at the good spots and never had an issue lining up anywhere we wanted. Most fans were casual, not hard core, curious more than anything. I am not good at estimating crowds, I would put it at 5000 – a few thousand on the mountain another 2000 at the start finish and a few hundred on the polytech hill. With one lap to go found a spot at 200m to go on the fence, 1 deep all the way to 100m and then maybe 2 – 5 deep for the last 100m.

    Local/national media coverage? Nothing in the Globe and Mail this morning and the top five listed in the National Post, no story. Nothing on TSN or national morning shows before i left for airport. Granted the local Montreal papers did have it on the front page.

    So outside of our world, did anyone notice? The only sponsor that got their moneys worth seemed to be KIA – the DS's were hamming them hard around the corners much to the spectators delight, squaking tires and keeping them from rolling over.

    Having said that, the race was awesome – all 5+hours of it and access to it and the riders unparalleled as you could literally go up to any one not in a Shack kit or named Jens and start chatting away.

    Michael Barry was riding a Bixi (bike share in MTL) and no one was paying any attention to him while people horded around sogneurs for used bottles…

  • david lewis Tuesday, 14 September 2010, 1:37 am

    Yeah, good points. I guess, when you love this stuff, the glasses are rose coloured. I'd say you are pretty close to the mark on the numbers. Also a good point was, as a fan, the guys were darn approachable – hard to do in many other sports. I will say, one problem with trying to take pictures, you forget about who and what is going on around the viewfinder. Next time, no camera.

    All being said. I enjoyed it. Didn't stay for the full 5, but got home in time (Live in Ottawa) to catch the final few laps live on the web)

  • TheInnerRing Tuesday, 14 September 2010, 7:39 am

    Good point Anon. My thoughts were based on the idea that the public got a good show. For sure there were not huge crowds… but look at the Vuelta or almost any race outside the Tour de France. I wish this race well and hope it can stick on the calendar.

  • vendeeu Tuesday, 14 September 2010, 10:25 am

    4 hrs internet coverage via Radio Canada site

  • david lewis Tuesday, 14 September 2010, 1:20 pm

    The GPs in Quebec have four more years to go I believe. Let's hope each year is better. I know I'd go again. If we can get a stronger foothold for pro racing in North America, that just means, even slowly, more exposure, the potential for more new racers, and if we are luckly, a remake of "American Flyers" ;P