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The Mag Rack: Velo News!

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Third in my magazine Tour preview trilogy. I have mixed feelings about VeloNews. I stopped renewing my mag subscription two years ago, finding I wasn't learning anything from it and not finding the content very interesting. VN.com has come in for its share of taunts too, as they lag behind the news as if stories don't bounce around the net at instant speed. For a while it seemed like they were missing stories, or getting them late, or just pulling things off the wires. They were also running job listings on the website.

Andy Hood took over as their primary reporter in Europe and quickly began filling the gap with those things only real reporters (as opposed to blogs) can deliver: original information gained directly from the riders and other people of interest in the sport. I'm pretty sure he was a rider with the old 7-Eleven squad, but in any event, he's a live reporter now. Around the same time though, John Wilcockson started easing out of the picture at VN.com, after a few decades of tireless coverage. One can hardly begrudge him his vacation or retirement or whatever he's up to, and if the current environment of the sport drove him to check out, well, you can't begrudge him that either.

But the VeloNews Tour de France official guide is like the old VN at its best: Wilcockson and Hood doing the heavy lifting, great photos, a lineup of established reporters from A to Zinn. As much as I liked Cycle Sport, I think VeloNews' Tour Preview is the best. Let's take a look.

VeloNews 2007 Official Tour de France Guide

Pages: 228. A lot, even before you consider...

Ad presence: No problem at all. Also, there's a topless model on page 53 hawking Santini bib shorts. Can't hurt.

Parcours Review: Quick and dirty, but they manage to squeeze in some predictions and history.

Guest starring: Bernard Hinault, running down the teams. Hint: he seems to prefer guys who ride like he did.

Favorites Preview: The best I've seen. The grid on p. 50-1 does more in two pages than some mags did in 10. VN doesn't put in all the amusing sidebars like CN does, but in this case, VN's tendency to stay focused on the important questions works best. Plus they run a full feature on everyone.

Other Jerseys: Lacking. Somewhere there's a page on the points competitionl but I'm not sure where.

Team Breakdowns: Hinault's domain. Color-coded signs indicating what a rider's role is. Very nice.

Props: Great stuff for newbies, and the faves grid is substantive and useful. A must for people who haven't filled out their VDS bracket.

Pans: More serious than their CS counterparts. Is that a pan?

Rating: Highest of the three!