Just a few quick notes:
* Word on the street apparently is that Amgen has made a serious 5-year cash commitment to the race, so it should be around for a while. Thanks Rob for the tip!
* The poll is hardly an exhaustive list of potential winners; just a quick list, which is a reflection of two things. One, that the site software doesn't allow for endless poll answers; and two, that this race is incredibly wide-open. Well, not so incredible given the time of year, but there are lots of potential plot lines that make the ToC more than just a winter training gig.
1) CSC headquarters are in El Segundo, a few miles from the final stage in Redondo Beach. Cyclists often feel compelled to make a show in front of their sponsor; presumably this is even more so when a Danish team departs from their European routine to pass by the company that just bankrolled their future, big time.
2) Lots of "local" guys -- I don't know everyone's address, honestly, but much has been made of Landis and Leipheimer coming by their transplanted homes. Does Boonen amp it up when he passes thru Flanders? Sure, but that sort of sentiment is probably a lot less sharp than it is for the overseas boys, who leave so much more behind.
3) Meanwhile, there are the domestic pros, for whom this might not be a mere offseason tune-up. There's plenty of talent around, not to mention the home-field advantage domestic teams will enjoy over the Euros. But the kicker is getting the chance to show the Big Boys they can hang with them... and maybe win. Also, the national broadcast means sponsors might be OK with riders sacrificing late-season goals for a win in Cali.
4) Finally, like most winter races there's a complement of strong youngsters -- Raisin, Zabriskie, Kopp, Danielsen, Greipel, Koldo Gil to name a few -- looking to make a mark before returning to their support roles. The stronger teams can afford to use their star riders selectively while looking to send off their younger guys, if that suits their goals better.