While watching the Dakar Rally highlights on my DVR (what can I say...I love wheels on dirt), a tease rolled at the bottom of the screen. The Tour Down Under and a year’s worth of bike racing goodness is on Versus starting this weekend (complete Cyclysm schedule as of 1/14/09 below.) With the deep freeze on its way, bikes on TV couldn’t have come sooner for us in the upper Midwest.
For the first time in a while, I went on the Versus website and cycling is more prominent than ever. A few months ago you had to dig deep into the pain cave to find the schedules and pages, now Cycling is listed at the top of the page right along with Indy, NHL and WEC. You can even sign up for email and text reminders so you don’t forget to set your DVR. While you’re there enter a poll to tell Versus why you plan on watching the Tour Down Under.
A: Because You Love Australia
B: Because Lance is Back
C. Because it’s on Versus
I chose C. While I am interested in seeing how Lance plays into the mix, I think most of us are truly fans of the sport and Versus needs to know that we’ll want to watch bike racing long after Lance has clipped out for the last time.
(Times Subject To Change)
Jan 18, 20-23 @ 4PM ET, Jan 24 @ 3:30PM ET andJan 25 @ 5PM ET
The Tour Down Under is the first stop in World Cycling after being granted UCI ProTour status - the first race outside of Europe to be given this ranking. Elite international athletes race around South Australia over a week in January in a bid to win the right to wear the Ochre Leaders Jersey.
Feb 14 @ 5PM ET, Feb 15 @ 6PM ETFeb 16 LIVE @ 12:30PM ET, Feb 17 LIVE @ 5PM ETFeb 18-20 LIVE @ 4PM ET and Feb 21-22 @ 5PM ET
The AMGEN Tour of California will bring the drama and excitement of a professional bicycle stage race to the California coast. The world's top professional teams will compete over an eight-day, 650-mile race on a route that includes the California redwoods, wine country and the Pacific Coast.
Mar 8 and Mar 15 @ 5PM ET
Also known as "The Race to the Sun", the Paris Nice is the first big stage competition of the season. This eight-stage cycling race kicks off the UCI Pro Tour, and covers over 1000km of road from Paris to the finish on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.
Mar 29 @ 5PM ET
Created in 1932, le Critérium International in France will welcome the cycling elite from around the world for a traditional three part race, a flat stage, a mountain stage and an individual time trial, taking place over two days.
Apr 5 @ 5PM ET
The Tour of Flanders (Ronde van Vlaanderen) is the biggest race in Belgium and a true cycling classic that highlights the spectacular and often dramatic nature of professional cycling. The twisting route through the lanes of the Flemish countryside, the steep cobbled climbs that often decide the winner, and the millions of spectators along the route, makes every edition of the Tour of Flanders a race to remember.
Apr 12 @ 4PM ET
Created in 1896, Paris-Roubaix is a reference event, marked by its rigorous criteria and its personality. It tests both man and machine to the bounds of resistance, over a course which is tailored to legendary exploits. Known as the "Hell of The North" this is the most rugged of the spring classics as the race makes its way over the muddy cobbled roads in France.
Apr 26 @ 3PM ET
Created in 1892, Liege-Bastogne-Liege is the oldest of cycling races. It is one of the most prestigious and exacting events of the season. It not only covers the hilliest part of Belgium, but the end of this race includes a succession of high-gradient climbs.
Apr 26 @ 3:30PM ET
La Fleche Wallonne is the first of the Ardennes classics, and is often quite a good predictor for Liege-Bastogne-Liege, although it is rare that the two races are won by the same rider. The two races are less cobbled and hillier than the previous three rounds of the World Cup.
May 3 @ 4PM ET
The Tour de Romandie is a short stage that tests rider's all round ability. The six-day race always includes two flat stages for the sprinters, a time trial, rolling stages in the hills and a tough mountain finish in the breathtaking Alps. It is the final race leading to the Giro d'Italia and is an early indication of who will be where for the Tour de France.
Jun 7, 9, 14 and 15 @ 5PM ET
The Dauphine Libere, a week-long race comes at a strategic moment in the season as the leading stage race riders begin to fine tune their fitness and always indicates who will be a contender in the summer stage races. The route of the Dauphiné Libéré always includes some of the legendary Alpine climbs, as well mountain stages, time trials and flat stages to create a thrilling race.
Jun 14 and 15 @ 6PM ET and Jun 21 @ 5PM ET
The Tour de Suisse is one of the biggest and most prestigious stage races in the UCI ProTour and will be held for the 71st time this year. The nine days of racing are held across the whole of Switzerland, with this year's race starting in Olten in the north of the country with a 3.8 km prologue and finishes in Bern with a 34.2 km time trial for a total of 1225 km of racing.
The Tour de France is the most prestigious bicycle race in the world. First held in 1903, the race takes a three-week route through France. Tour de France will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,500 kilometres. The Tour de France is considered the most difficult race on the calendar due to the extreme terrain and the top level of competition. The winner of the race is generally regarded as the top cyclist that year regardless of other race results.
Oct 11 @ 5PM ET
The third biggest cycling event in the world is The Vuelta A Espana, or the Tour of Spain. This year's edition covers 21 stages including three time trials and seven mountain stages. It is often the most difficult race on many riders' calendars, and the battle for the overall win usually comes down to the last few days. This year's field is very strong. Favorites who will battle for the Golden Fleece include Spaniards Oscar Pereiro and Alejandro Valverde, American Tom Danielson of Team Discovery, Russian Denis Menchov and Alexander Vinokourov of the newly formed Team Astana.
Oct 11 @ 6PM ET
Paris-Tours is the last presitgous race on the cycling calendar, covers over 250 k in one day. Sprinters thrive here with a three kilometer finish straight on the Avenue Du Grammont.
Nov 8 @ 6PM ET
The Tour du Faso was created in 1987, and in less than 20 years, it has become the greatest professional race in Africa, reflecting the vitality of its creators. There are 11race stages, one rest day, 1305.5 km and six riders per team.