NASCAR kicked off its season yesterday, and for the most part, so did pro cycling with the prologue of the tour de california (tdc). Sure, there is racing year round in cycling... with track, road and cross basically filling up the calendar, but the tdc seems to be the first race where the grand tour contenders come out with a full complement of riders and execute serious team strategy.
It is hard to get too excited about it though: pro cycling has become a characture of itself, much like boxing, where it is hard to really know who is on the up and up. I'd have compared it to wrestling, but at least with that you know it is fake. The people running and participating in this sport say and do the craziest things: teammates and officials flaming riders in public comments, organizers blackballing entire teams to stick it to the international governing authority, teams employing riders under serious suspicion of drug use... the list goes on. If it were just a fringe sport, you could almost understand it, but there are guys in the peloton making millions of euro per year: big money in this game. Even with the dollars floating around, sponsors regularly get torched on their investments (i.e. Liberty Mutual two years ago) when a scandal blows up. You'd think that the folks with the most to gain or loose would smarten up, get organized, and run it like every other pro sport. However, they seem content with the status quo.
Bike racing's ongoing salvation is due two things imho: it is something anyone can do that is relatively safe and the pro racing is great, whether the athletes are chemically enhanced or not. Enjoy the tdc and the inevitable melt down that someone will have... and try not to think to hard about who is clean and who isn't.