For about a week now VeloNews has been bombarding me with email claiming that their Tour de France Special Preview is available, on the newsstands. It's not, of course, or it wasn't as of yesterday, but that's not my chief concern. Rather, I wonder, why is it that I am excited to buy it? Why does this happen to me every year? I possess the same unacceptable certainty as the president of the Iban Mayo fan club that this time will not likely turn out any better than the usual. Preview mags are a letdown. Still, I buy.
Anyway, while waiting for VeloNews to live up to its promises, I walked away from Barnes & Noble instead with Cycling Weekly's Tour: The Essential Guide. A UK mag related to Cycle Sport, I figured this is as close to a hometown race pub as I'm likely to want, given the London start. I imagine VN will show up soon, and Cycle Sport should arrive at home by mid-July. As they do I will give a quick review. If people have other preview mags worth considering, feel free to submit a review.
Cycling Weekly (UK)
Ad presence: pretty heavy, and everything is priced in pounds, which I find unsettling.
Parcours Review: Standard, one page per stage. Mountain profiles seem to require 3-D glasses to decipher. Chart where you can write in the names of the day's winners is kind of 1950s quaint. Extra credit for their ability to explain why they think a particular rider might win that day.
Guest starring: Eddy Merckx. Top that!
Favorites Preview: Solid! Assesses each rider individually, goes over strengths and weaknesses, and uses 1-5 stars to suggest an outcome. Gutsy by preview mag standards!
Other Jerseys: Same in-depth preview of the mountains and points comps. No love for the young guys though.
Team Breakdowns: Quick and dirty.
Props: The Stephen Roche piece is fun (what Roche feature isn't?). The feature on French riders is a rare opportunity to learn something. Some offbeat sidebars.
Pans: When was this thing published? Unibet is listed as a team; Alessandro Petacchi is left off the points section (presumed injured or dead?); Serguei Honchar is a favorite for the time trials. Maybe being fastest to the newsstand in this volatile environment isn't a good idea. Also, I'm not British, so headlines like "Come On Roger!" don't do much for me.
Rating: Buy... if you can get the local price. The import price is in the hardcover book range.