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Tour of Cali: Strategery!

Tour_of_cali_mediumFirst question to you: how likely is the Amgen Tour of California to be won on Mount Palomar? [Take the poll, attached!]

This is kind of a tough one. Last year, the results of the Solvang Time Trial were more or less the final GC, as far as the top spots were concerned. While the peloton stuck together beforehand and allowed the ITT to create the gaps, there was little space for time gains over the final two stages, climbs or no.

This year the organizers have taken it up a notch... but just one. Mount Palomar will be the highest point reached in the history of the race, at 5,123 feet, and includes no less than 11.7 miles averaging a 7% incline, plus switchbacks galore. Conventional wisdom is that there has to be a chance of the contenders separating from one another. The problem is that the pack will clear Palomar and resume normal bumpy racing at mile 68, leaving about 38 miles for a delinquent GC contender (and his team) to hammer back on.

The answer, I think, won't be clear til we know where the contenders are versus each other after the time trial. If a rider from a weaker team is in gold, then it's absolutely game on Sunday; whereas if Levi is monopolizing the fair fleece, it's hard to imagine Astana giving it back. I want to throw this out there for now, but we'll have to revisit it a week from today, once we know how the chrono went, then break down what's left of the teams.