The upcoming Tour of California isn't just a potentially interesting race, it also might be a watershed moment. This country has not seen any serious attempt at a national Tour since the Tour duPont dwindled and died off. Or, arguably, since the heady days of the Coors Classic, a race that once gave us Bernard Hinault racing on US soil, albeit in a leader's jersey that looked, um, state-issued.
Now, the Tour of California itself is too early in the year to matter much to the international scene. But if it's a success, it could grow on its own or at least give race organizers an excuse to start thinking big in this country. Meanwhile, Cycle Sport America (my favorite print mag) is suggesting that the Vuelta is suddenly on thin ice -- back to its old status as a poor third cousin raced almost entirely by Spanish climbers, and with a nasty doping scandal to boot. Would the UCI come looking for an American tour to take its place?
To someone way on the outside, there is at least some logic here. Assuming it all gets back to sponsor dollars, the Pro Tour teams would stand to do well with some time on US soil, either on behalf of their current sponsors or possibly by tacking on a few new ones (not sure the Bouygues Telecom network does much business here). The possibilities are endless when it comes to routes... provided you can find one that fans can get to, and that can work logistically. And with all due respect to the Tour of Georgia, it has to be out West... somewhere in Colorado is our Tourmalet or Ventoux.
Anyway, this may be nothing more than a fan's dream, but if it were to happen, the next couple years may represent a window of opportunity. And the Tour of California -- home state to so many riders, fans, and routes -- might make some light bulbs go off.