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27 Oct 2005
It’s never too soon to start thinking of next year. And in that spirit, the organizers of the Tour de France announced the race route for 2006. Next year’s highlights include a jaunt through the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany, as well as what will certainly be some epic mountain stages.
At the moment, however, I’m even more interested in seeing how the American audience responds to this first post-Armstrong Tour. The Outdoor Life Network already curbed their coverage of both the Giro and Vuelta this year, relegating them to weekend “highlight” shows. Could the Tour de France be far behind, now that an American isn’t virtually assured victory? My guess is that 2006 will be a sort of grace period – OLN coverage and US interest in the sport will extend one year past Lance, but only if another American takes a podium spot.
Then again, it might not matter at all. Last summer, the stages were available via BitTorrent and other nefarious means. If the small but passionate American audience were cut off from daily coverage, I’m sure some kid in France with broadband and a good video card will step in where the traditional networks fail. Vive le difference!