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Does the Vuelta Matter?

Posted by Bruce Hildenbrand on Aug 30, 2009 10:54:50 PM

So, I am over here in Europe in the Italian Alps and Dolomites helping a friend lead a bike tour. We are riding some great passes and having a wonderful time, but that's not what I am writing about. The third grand tour, La Vuelta a Espana, started on Saturday and the daily results have generated some interest among the clients of our tour group who, not surprisingly, are a bunch of bike racing junkies.

 

The problem is that it is very hard to find the Vuelta on TV here in Europe. OK, since the race is in Spain, maybe the Italian national TV won't be carrying it (they do carry the Tour de France, BTW), but what about Eurosport, the ESPN of European TV. They have a long history of carrying everything from table tennis to sailboat racing live, but this year, the Vuelta coverage comes on about two hours after the stage finish.

 

The lack of respect for the Vuelta is so great that yesterday, Eurosport showed the European Equestrian Championships and the Women's Euopean Soccer Championships live in the Vuelta time slot. C'mon. It's bike racing. The start list includes Ivan Basso, Andy Schleck, Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen and a whole host of other great racers. OK. Alexandre Vinokourov is making his comeback from a two year suspension for doping so there may be a bit of backlash, but showing the stage two ours after it finished, in Europe, is basically tantamount to saying "who really cares."

 

I am hoping that once the table tennis, curling, horse jumping and all the other minor sports conclude their world championships the Vuelta will get shown live on Europsort. Who knows? There was a proposal this year to shorten the Vuelta from the normal grand tour length of three weeks down to two weeks and move it back to it's original April time slot. That proposal was shelved. Man the race, just like Rodney Dangerfield, can't get no respect.

 

If you live in America, you can get same day coverage of the Vuelta on NBC/Universal Sports. Americans are used to seeing delayed coverage of sporting events so its not that big of a deal. I don't know what the Vuelta needs to do to get some respect. It looks to be an exciting race, if only we could watch it here in Europe, where cycling is considered a major sport, when it is actually happening.

 

Bruce

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