Yep, it's not real interesting after you've seen the first 10 minutes of desert, is it?
I don't think ToQ has actual "UCI World Tour" status but my guess is the government and or local rich oil sheik splashed a lot of money around to help put the country on the map.
It probably suits the teams to have another race that's not too hard for the early season training benefits, and it gets the riders out of a freezing cold winter for a week or so. Teams didn't take TdU very seriously in the early years, but still they came and rode for the training and sponsor's exposure.
TdU has slowly become more than just a sprinter's race by introducing extra laps of hills like Willunga and Mengler's. Even the gentle uphill of Aldgate to Stirling tests them out after racing it hard for 3-4 times.
Now that TdU is a World Tour event, the racing here is a lot more serious because the teams need to earn as many points as possible to ensure they qualify for next year.
Yah- agree with you... Colombia has a strong cycling tradition, but their ToC doesn't get so much coverage. Perhaps because it falls in a busier time of the season when all eyes are on Europe? Or perhaps because money talks?
My choice at this time of year is the Tour of Oman - http://www.tourofoman.om/ - at least it has mountains! Gesink is the defending champion, which says something about the terrain.
@Clayton- Fair enough, I admit last night was a good finish, (but I only watched the last 25km)