The route for the 2013 Tour de France has been published, including two monster stages, a 242 K stage that includes the iconic climb of Mont Ventoux and stage 18 featuring not one, but two ascents of the killer Alpe d’Huez. Commentators are already excited and fans, likewise.
But not this one. Considering that the Tour and much of the peloton have been making strenuous efforts to clean up the drugs mess, I wonder if it is really fair of the organizers to push ever more difficult stages. And this is not just in the Tour. Keeping up with the Jones has also brought more and more difficult climbs to both the Giro and the Vuelta.
The reasons are not hard to find and chief among them has to be the television coverage. The fans at the roadside see the racers flash past on the descents and the flats or struggle up the mountains. The TV fans, however, are potentially sitting for hours at a time. To keep them in their seats, the commentary is often super-heated, the images, spectacular, and the action - the networks hope – non-stop.
The result is a push for more climbs, more spectacular descents, more opportunities for the celebrated suffering and endurance of bicycle racing. For the best amusement of the spectators – sure. But not, I think, in the best interests of the racers.