Speculation about the route for the 2009 Tour of California (ToC) has been happening even while the 2008 race was underway. Of course, nothing has been publicly announced, expect to hear something official in July or August, but this is a blog so that means that I can make some guesses and then deny everything when I am proven totally wrong.
Hey, the best thing is that there appears to be several cities strongly interested in hosting the prologue. What was once the sole domain of San Francisco moved 30 miles south last year to Palo Alto/Stanford and was a smashing success. However, rumour has it that Sacramento is keen on hosting the race-beginning event and with the Governator critical for pulling a lot of strings along the entire race route, Sac-Town may have the inside track.
As far as the overall race route, Levi's hometown may be saying bye-bye to its stage finish. In fact, after three editions of the ToC, the Sausalito to Santa Rosa stage is the only route to be included in every edition of the race. But, that may be a footnote in ToC history as the rumour mill forecasts that Santa Rosa will be axed in favor of adding a race day (or possibly two) down in the San Diego area.
Palomar Mountain in northern San Diego county is a favorite testpiece for southern Californian cyclists and may be on the program in 2009. The 11-mile 4000-foot climb would be a welcome addition for riders like Levi Leipheimer especially if it became the first mountain-top finish in ToC history.
The title sponsor for the 2009 ToC is still a mystery. Amgen's three-year deal ended in 2008 and though race organizers indicated that Amgen was satisfied with their sponsorship no official word has been given on who will be the title sponsor next year. More rumours and a few facts when they become available.