The 2011 Giro d'Italia that was at times a snooze-fest has come to a welcome end writes Mike Tomalaris.
The Giro d'Italia has come and gone for another year and I for one couldn't wait to see the finish line.
I'll be honest, if impressions on television are an indication, Italy's biggest cycling event was a major let down.
In fact, at times I thought it was a snooze-fest!
It's not as if my passion for world cycling and viewing for Grand Tours has wained nor does it have anythning to do with the riders who go through hell and back in order to generate competition and provide entertainment.
I simply thought the three week event as a television spectacle lacked the excitement of its French cousin from across the border.
Sad really as the anticipation from SBS executives to screen four "epic" mountain stages live for the first time was seen as a breakthrough in the network's bid to expand its cycling portfolio.
Let me remind you television images of cycling races, in most cases, are provided by the host broadcaster.
In Italy it's RAI, in France it's France Televisions while in Australia for the Santos Tour Down Under, an independent production company provides the services on behalf of SBS which ultimately is responsible for the picture quality and overall presentation.
I'm told to be at the Giro in the flesh is an experience of its own - that may be the case, but to watch scratchy images on a screen from the other side of the world served up by the Italian host broadcaster left me cringing.
Unlike the polished production values we've come to expect from television types here, I thought our Italian colleagues failed to deliver.
Apart from the dodgy (and dangerous) camera work from operators hanging off the back of moto bikes and the curious selection of cuts provided by the director and producers from the safety of a production truck, satellite break-up on each of the four stages SBS screened had me reaching for my bag of inertia tablets.
Now, I'm the first to expect a picture break-up especially when riders traverse through remote and hostile regions, but when images start to crumble as they did during the final stage time-trial held on the streets of Italy's biggest city, it becomes a major problem.
Speaking of the final stage time-trial, was it just me or did the "homecoming" lack the atmosphere one might ususally expect on the back of a three week tour?
I must question the organisers wisdom to run a section of the 26km course through some of Milan's industrial area, especially when there is the potential of a huge international audience watching.
Milan is not the prettiest of cities, but it certainly has more to offer than empty side-streets lined with ugly warehouses.
This is where the Tour de France is head and shoulders above any other event.
Every year the Champs Elysees is closed to hundreds of thousands of spectators who tavel from all parts of the globe to witness the end of a special event.
The Giro is also very special while Italy as a country is one of my favourite holiday destinations, but I just didn't get that impression from the low-standard images we received.
My point is this: if the Giro wants to be taken seriously, it must raise the bar at every level to engage and attract non-Italian fans hungry to watch top-quality cycling.
There's a huge untapped market of cycling followers out there who still think the Tour de France is the only race that counts.