Friday, June 3, 2011

Tour of Cali Gets a New Sponsor?

--Amgen's three year contract with AEG and the Tour of California just expired and is up for renewal. The biotech company--who happens to make EPO--is still considering whether to renew or not. Some estimate the title spot as a $4m commitment. They also say it costs about $1m a day to run.

I spoke with someone familiar with the race while in Tahoe and they said the race is just now breaking even. It started during a tough time economically but has been making progress.

If Amgen doesn't renew I'm sure they'll be able to find a replacement. Tour of Georgia couldn't after AT&T bailed but I think the value proposition for the Tour of Cali, considering where it's located, is much better.

--Speaking of the Tour of Cali, looks like bass fishing still had twice the ratings Versus had for the race. Personally, I don't care for the over-produced Versus coverage much, or Paul and Phil. But I think cycling is so niche a sport that it doesn't affect the ratings much. I tune in just to get that warm fuzzy feeling of watching a bike race on American TV so what do I know...

--Vroomen, the CEO of Cervelo, recently made some interesting comments about doping and cycling:

"In Italy Ivan Basso can do no wrong, in Spain Alberto Contador can do no wrong. Sport is probably the most nationalist thing we’ve still got in the world. People in the US are extremely anti doping with anyone that’s caught when they’re Italian, Spanish or German, but at the same time they don’t want to know about Levi Leipheimer’s positive test from the 90s. It’s a strange attitude and of course the media is much focussed on giving people what they want so they also don’t focus on that."

He goes on to say:

"“As to benefits from races, I think that’s genuinely overestimated. The best data I have was in 2008 when we won the Tour with Carlos Sastre. Our worst performing model was the model he rode to win the Tour de France. We saw zero boosts from his win. Overall the brand recognition grows and there’s no doubt to that but the individual wins do very little."

So there, it's not about winning he says. Although that only goes so far. A team with zero wins won't have any riders that attract attention. I mean, no one was dying to get close to Johan Van Summeren when the season started.

--Ricco is upset over the recent attention to him and his kidney failure.

“My position is very clear: I have not done anything, I was hospitalised for kidney failure, a problem that could happen to anyone, even to that individual who leads a perfect life.”

He was hospitalized in February for a kidney failure and allegedly admitted to having botched a blood transfusion. Ricco wasn't banned for this but Vacansoleil went ahead and fired him. They don't regret that decision.

Ricco goes on to discuss doping. "The Spaniard is in yet another farce of cycling, embroiled in doping affairs that have little to do with cycling or anything."

And that's the world according to Ricco.

--No Tour for Taylor Phinney this year. He's had a tough time with his knee this first season. Meanwhile, his counterpart and one who a year ago was treated as a #2 pick, Ben King, is still doing great.

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