Fourth – it's bike racing. It's just the best – a muscle-powered chess game on wheels. One-day classics are fun, but any multi-stage tour is simply the symphony of the sport, the culmination of all its disciplines into a magnificent panorama of human endeavor. Which means, of course, nights spent nailed to the couch watching these guys suffer through cold, heat, and climbing, and beating myself up a little for not doing the same. (On the other hand, it is actively snowing outside, and I'm not getting even a domestique's pay for getting out there.)
Gimme a Tour, any Tour
Okay, so it's not one of the Grand Tours, but the Tour of California (excuse me, the Amgen Tour of California) is pretty darned exciting. For starters, it's brought the finest field of pro riders ever assembled in North America, mixing it up nicely with some highly skilled domestic teams. Second, it's set in some of the most scenic country we've got on roads I'd give my eyeteeth to have closed for riding (because the PCH is pretty much a deathtrap for cyclists otherwise). Third, there's what's-his-name's comeback, which is welcomed for all the attention it brings to the sport, I suppose, but it still leaves us cycling fans having to explain to those not in the know why Lance isn't going to win, or try to win, the Tour of California. (And why are bike team dynamics so incomprehensible to fans of other pro sports? Is the idea that the team's success is what matters completely lost in American pro sports?).