Before heading to San Marcos the other day, I caught a preview show for the Amgen Tour of California and thought “cool, this tour looks like it has grown and looks to have some pretty big names coming.”

amgenstart2.jpgAfter returning to Houston, I saw that TiVo had captured daily coverage of the tour on the VERSUS network. Wow – daily coverage! That is unheard of in American cycling. It took decades for us to get daily coverage of the Tour de France.

The best I could get for years was a thirty-minute wrap up on the weekend, usually played around midnight. This lack of attention by the media and support by the fans was a large reason why top international cyclists rarely showed up on US soil for races. This seems to have changed with this Tour of California.

It doesn’t have the mountains of the Tour de France. It doesn’t have the total mileage of the grand tours. It doesn’t have the throngs of rabid fans lining every mile of the tour. But, what it does have is more important for cycling in America.

The top cycling teams in the world have sent their best to compete and the VERSUS network has spared no expense in providing top-notch coverage. Riders like Tom Boonen, Levi Leipheimer, Paolo Bettini, and even the return of arguably the best sprinter of all-time “Super” Mario Cipollini.

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I have several hours to watch and have purposely put myself on a cycling news blackout so that I don’t accidentally get a spoiler. I won’t even read comments here until I have watched it all. Kudos to Amgen for tossing the dollars needed to make this a world-class event, kudos to international cycling teams for bringing the best riders in the world, and kudos to VERSUS for their coverage. It will make the wait until the Tour de France much easier.