Am I allowed to say that?
There it is. We heard earlier this year of the partnership between ASO (Tour de France etc.) and SUM (Tour of California and a whole bunch of other sports and entertainment endeavors). Now those who saw the start of this morning's Versus Tour coverage saw the announcement that the Tour of California is bustin' out, moving from seven to nine stages and reaching all the way south to San Diego (technically Escondido). I think its fair to say that the ToC has successfully passed through its toddler stage and is ready to make a statement.
Now I have no contact whatsoever with anyone even remotely associated with the ToC, plus what I think is wrong most of the time, but it sure looks like it is positioning itself with ASO's help to be THE major early season stage race (pre-Paris-Nice that is). And since ASO now has such a major (though still unclear) say in the post-Pro Tour world it sure looks like to me that the ToC is one big piece to the puzzle. That would include more big teams with more major riders schlepping over to California instead of southern Spain for some early season racing. All in all it sure looks like the ToC is here to stay for a long time.
Below the fold I'll give a superficial pass at the new route.
You read right- nine stages, no rest days, a different course layout, all from February 14-22. Details for the nine stages are yet available but just looking at the map shows a very different course:
- No "postcard" Pacific coast stage.
- The Sierra Road/Mt Hamilton stage is backwards going from San Jose to Modesto. Anyone care to say how the climbs are this way?
- Stage two also looks backwards going from Sacramento west to Santa Rosa.
-Stage six from the Central Valley to near the coast looks like it could have a climb or two.
-The Solvang ITT is still a feature, as is this year's final stage- only it is now the next to the last stage and it still avoids Crashdan's home like the plague!
-Still nothing north of Sacramento-Santa Rosa or the Sierras which makes sense for that time of year.
Looks good! Now let's hope that someone will seriously contest Levi for the overall. Floyd in a Rock kit maybe? ;) Or perhaps Benna could grace california with his presence only to get snapped up by some major motion picture studio? Stay tuned as more news dribbles out.