Versus network continues AToC coverage

Looks like the Versus network has entered into an agreement with AEG to continue televised coverage.

When I first heard this I had mixed results.  Versus coverage has been less than desirable at times – at least for those of us that are cycling fans.  However, the network has apparently notice the market potential of the cycling community as a whole.  Their press release (full content below) states:

Since VERSUS started airing coverage of the Tour of California in 2007, the network has seen average viewership growth of 46 percent.  Last year’s race saw the number of viewers tuning in to the network’s daily coverage double from 2007 (3 million vs. 1.5 million).

Things appear slightly more shiny now, however.  While many of us have gotten used to the one hour in the middle of the night coverage of major bicycle races as all that we could hope for, the press release refers to these highlight brodcasts as something that will be provided “additionally.“  Can we dare home for live, HD coverage of the race while it happens?  Apparently CyclingFans thinks so:

Here is the full press release from Versus:

NEW YORK, N.Y. (January 19, 2011)—VERSUS and AEG today announced a multi-year agreement to continue televising AEG’s Amgen Tour of California road race, the premier U.S.-based cycling event that features the world’s top professional cyclists.  VERSUS will provide live HD coverage of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California, which takes place from May 15-22, including all the exciting finish-line sprints and the first-ever mountain top stage finish with the ascent up Mt. Baldy.  Additionally, the network will air highlights of the stages each night during the eight-day competition at 11 p.m. ET.

“VERSUS’ commitment to cycling is stronger than ever and we look forward to continuing our coverage of the largest road race in America,” said Marc Fein, Executive Vice President of Programming, Production and Business Operations for VERSUS. “We are excited to broadcast this epic event for the fifth straight year and super-serve cycling fans the same way we do with all our properties.”

Since VERSUS started airing coverage of the Tour of California in 2007, the network has seen average viewership growth of 46 percent.  Last year’s race saw the number of viewers tuning in to the network’s daily coverage double from 2007 (3 million vs. 1.5 million).

“We are delighted to be partnering with VERSUS on the Amgen Tour of California,” said Andrew Messick, President of AEG Sports. “VERSUS’ skill, experience and passion for both cycling and the Amgen Tour of California makes them the perfect partner as we continue to make our race one of the most important in the world.”

Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, the undisputed voices of cycling, will once again call all the race action in the Golden State with Bob Roll returning as field reporter.

Stages for the 2011 Amgen Tour of California:

Stage 1: Sunday, May 15 – South Lake Tahoe to North Lake Tahoe-Northstar at Tahoe Resort
Stage 2: Monday, May 16 – North Lake Tahoe-Squaw Valley  to Sacramento
Stage 3: Tuesday, May 17 – Auburn to Modesto
Stage 4: Wednesday, May 18 – Livermore to San Jose
Stage 5: Thursday, May 19 – Seaside to Paso Robles
Stage 6: Friday, May 20 – Solvang Individual Time Trial
Stage 7: Saturday, May 21 – Claremont to Mt. Baldy
Stage 8: Sunday, May 22 – Santa Clarita to Thousand Oaks