Sunday Notebook

Vuelta a España: Well, someone’s leading it. Actually, Dennis Menchov, a Russian who rides for the Dutch Rabobank team. I have to confess that the race is less than totally engaging without the daily television coverage that the Tour de France enjoys here in the United States. Even with the bad race calling and lame, repetitive analysis by Sherwen and Liggett, the fact we get to see at least a couple hours of each day’s stage creates a sense of continuity and an understanding of the terrain and tactics that is very hard to come by when you depend on text and still pictures. It is possible to see the Vuelta online, via CyclingTV. My experience with online video: noncompelling, perhaps given my 12-inch display and reliance on a not-superspeedy DSL connection (that having been said, I did follow some of the Tour of California live online last February and while the pictures were in and out, the audio was pretty good and the commentary from Robbie Ventura and the ever-popular Someone Else was quite good).

Fantasy Vuelta: As earlier predicted, my team, the Berkeley Bombers, has plummeted in the standings as the race has gone into the world-famous Spanish mountains (a.k.a., mountains of Spain). The latest good news to afflict my squad is the withdrawal of Oscar Pereiro (Spain/Caisse d’Epargne), my main (meaning only) hope for a high overall performance; he’s not listed as retirado. For the rest, I do have the two highest-scoring riders in the race so far, Oscar Freire and Paolo Bettini. That won’t be enough to avoid a middle-of-the-pack finish, though, especially since the game doesn’t allow a manager to replace the riders who quit or crash out of the race.

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