Elvisgoat reads my mind and runs through many of the particulars below. Which is perfect, because I'll be on travel all day tomorrow. But I'll say this: the CDL may be a warm-up race, but I can understand the attraction. Of the seven stages, there are two time trials and four other events over 197km, two of which are huge climbfests. Other than riding the Giro, which is impractical for even the hardest of the frontrunners, there's no place to get this kind of race experience close to the curtain-raising.
Anyway, it will be a beautiful spectacle, and the secondary stars will actually try to win (re. Danielson, Kashechkin, etc.) while the contenders stare at each other.
Speaking of Tour contenders, the NY Times kicked off the Tour previews in Play magazine last weekend, where writer Edward Pickering (from Cycle Sport) singled out four favorites: two from Astana and Caisse d'Epargne: Vino, Klödi, Valverde and Pereiro. Among the long shots are Sastre, Menchov and Moreau, while Levi Leipheimer is off in the Lance's Mantle category, whatever that is.
Now, Ed Pickering knows the difference between Oscar Pereiro and the true contenders, and he knows that Lance's retirement doesn't actually hang over the heads of guys like Leipheimer. But of course this is the Times, and this is the Tour. The Times' readership is chockablock with people who summer in France, and whose casual association with the Tour is another vacation souvenir to be collected. Such viewers have every right to pop by Cycling in their spare moments and pretend to be fans, and the sport probably wins over a fair amount of them. I don't have a problem with that. God bless 'em; I'd happily summer in France if I weren't scheduled to parent in Seattle for the foreseeable future. I just think we need to be ready for a parallel, non-CN media track which caters to people who think Oscar Pereiro's second place last year, or whatever you call it, means what it appears.