I posted my best guesses on the proposed route for the 2010 Amgen Tour of California, but speculation is just that speculation. I had the opportunity to speak with one of the organizers and he was kind enough to fill me in. BTW, the official announcement of the route is scheduled for October 22.
The first stage of the race will be a point-to-point course starting in Nevada City in the Sierra Foothills and finishing in downtown Sacramento. Stage 2 will start in Davis and travel to Levi Leipheimer's hometown of Santa Rosa. The course will be lengthened from last year's route to include a spin by Bodega Bay which also means that the steep Coleman Valley climb may also be on the program.
Stage 3 is San Francisco to Santa Cruz which is similar to last year's stage, but it will probably not cross over the Golden Gate Bridge.
Stage 4 is San Jose to Modesto, most likely along the same route as was used in 2009 when Thor Hushovd claimed Cervelo Test Team's first ever win.
The details of Stage 5 are a bit sketchy, though it will finish in Bakersfield. Race organizers would like to put the actual finish line at Bakersfield College which sits on top of a bluff and would allow for several challenging finishing circuits once the race reaches town.
Stage 6 appears to be the mountain-top finish at Big Bear Lake. Stage 7 will be a flat, 30-mile individual time trial in the Los Angeles Area.
The final stage, Stage 8, will be very difficult. It starts with a descent from the Woodland Hills area down Encinal Road then a climb back up Decker Canyon Road. After that, multiple circuits of a local loop which includes the Rock Store Hill, a very steep climb that ascends 1000 feet in 2 miles, will be ridden before finally finishing in Thousand Oaks, the hometown of the race's primary sponsor, Amgen.
Previously, I reported that Yosemite Valley was on the agenda. Unfortunately, the Park Superintendent decided not to allow the race to come into Yosemite, because the event offers prize money and there is a rule prohibiting races of such type in the park.
Details of the route for the 2010 Amgen Tour of California(ATOC) are leaking out bit by bit though the official announcement is scheduled for sometime next week (October 6?). As was announced earlier this year, the race will move from February to May with the 16th to the 23rd being the proposed dates.
It appears that the race will start in Sacramento, but unlike last year when the stage was a very short prologue, the course will most likely be a road race up into the Sierra foothills that begins and ends near the Capitol.
The next stage is rumoured to include Levi Leipheimer's home town of Santa Rosa.Given that Santa Rosa is over 100 miles from Sacramento, the stage will most likely finish in Levi's hood, a potential start city could again be Davis, the new home of the US Bicycling Hall of Fame.
It is not clear if the race will visit the San Francisco Bay Area, but what seems to be clear is that Yosemite Valley will be on the agenda. One proposed route could be from Merced to the Yosemite on Hiway 140 and then a return on Hiway 41 to a finish in Fresno or Clovis, where there was a stage finish last year.
The 2010 race route was supposed to be announced just before Interbike last week, however, last minute logistical hassles, mostly like dealing with the race entering Yosemite National Park, caused a postponement until next week.
The town of Bakersfield will host either a stage start or more likely a stage finish as the Rabobank Arena, owned by the race's third most important sponsor behind Amgen and Herbalife, is located there.
Another stage finish is scheduled for downtown LA at the Staples Center which is owned by AEG the owner the Amgen Tour of California and is the home of the LA Lakers.
The first ever mountain top finish for the Tour of California is penciled in for the village of Big Bear Lake in the San Bernadino Mountains. Sitting at 6000' above sea level, any route up to this ski resort town will include a major climb.
The usually decisive time trial stage will follow the finish in Big Bear Lake and is slated to be a 29-mile test in Venice, just west of LA, on the Pacific Coast.
The race is not scheduled to visit the San Diego area in 2010; the final stage will most likely end in Thousand Oaks the hometown of the race's primary sponsor Amgen.
So, there you have it. Mix speculation with rumour, add just a hint of fact and you have the route of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California. Well, maybe!?!?
Race organizers announced that the Tour de Georgia will not be held in 2009. While this is the official announcement, I have been talking about the demise of Georgia's premier bike race since late last spring. Most recently, I speculated if Lance's return to cycling could save the event.
It is not fair to blame Lance for the demise of the race. Yes, it is true that the event really blossomed the two years (2004, 2005) when the Texan rode it, but the organizers were unable to build on the buzz. Maybe it is just too difficult to sell cycling in a region where NASCAR has such a stranglehold on the sports community.
I think the organizers have to bear the responsibility for the demise. Last year, the race visited such cycling hot beds as Tybee Island and Savannah where crowds were almost non-existent. However, if you saw the final stage in downtown Atlanta, the site of the 1996 Olympics, there were no crowds there as well. So, either Georgia is just too much about four, and not two, wheels going fast or the race organizers just didn't do enough to whip up enthusiasm.
It was just reported that the title sponsor for the Tour of California, Amgen, will be printing up 60,000 handbooks using cycling to teach core subjects which will be distributed to 4th-6th grade students in schools at the race's 16 host cities. That's a move that has grass roots written all over it.
OK. Maybe this is a case of the cart before the horse and the fact that the Tour de Georgia could never land a long-term title sponsor (this will be Amgen's fourth year at the Tour of California) was really at the core of the problem and not the lack of fan support. But, it could be argued that without the fan support, you can't land a long-term title sponsor. Do I sense a Catch-22?
Whatever the reason, the Tour de Georgia won't be held in 2009. With the recent postponement of the Tour of Colorado, let's hope that all the other major US stage races, Missouri, Utah, etc. are healthy and happy with a long-term title sponsor.