As first reported by cyclingnews, the Tour of California is moving up in the calendar from its original February timeframe to May 16 to 23 starting in 2010, which conflicts with the Giro d’Italia.
During two of its four years, riders at the Tour of California have faced rain, hail, wind and cold temperatures, and the move should allow everyone to take advantage of warmer, drier weather and to finally have a mountain top finish.
The race is on track to get the ProTour status starting in 2011. On a side note, does anyone remember the Tour de Sochi, in Russia, which as touted as a new ProTour event to be held in May 2009? No, right, it never happened.
So many questions. The proposed dates also go head-to-head against the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya which is on the ProTour. Already facing economic difficulties, will the Catalunya race survive this new scheduling?
Why would European ProTour teams participate in a race in California with added expenses and jetlag instead of staying in Europe to participate in the races such as the Giro, Catalunya, Tour de Suisse and Tour de Picardie?
President of race organiser AEG Sports, Andrew Messick, states (via cyclingnews) that the new timeframe will turn the Tour of California into a preparation race for the Tour de France.
And there you have it - Le Tour. Last year, AEG and ASO, the owners of the Tour de France, announced “a multi-dimensional marketing partnership to grow and develop each other’s events.” I assume that this is only the first big salvo in their partnership.
But what does this mean for the North-American peloton? Due to costs, teams tend to reduce the number of cross-country trips of the riders, staff, equipment, so NRC races such as Joe Martin Stage Race, Bank of America Wilmington Grand Prix, Kelly Cup, Tour of Somerville, might feel the brunt as the big American teams shift focus on California. And this could be the death blow to the postponed Oregon Pro Cycling Race unless it can be moved the race to another spot in the schedule.
If the California race does get the ProTour status in 2011, it means that only ProTour teams and Pro Continental teams that have received the wildcard status can participate in the race. No Bissell, no Jelly Belly, no Team Type 1, no OUCH, no Planet Energy…., the only American team that could participate, if invited, would be BMC – if nothing changes.
It would also reduce the number of stage races where domestic teams can face ProTour teams and raise the level to one – the Tour of Missouri.
And what about the women? For the past two years, a Women’s Criterium has been held at the same time as the Tour of California. This year, the women’s race originally scheduled to be a 3-day stage race was scaled back to a crit.
In the post-race press release, Messick stated “We remain committed to presenting women’s cycling and will look for ways to help promote and grow women’s cycling in the coming months and years.” So Mr Messick, what about the women?
- Better weather, mountain top finish.
- Close connection to Tour organizers
- ProTour status starting in 2011 allowing fans to see the teams that have never raced here. A or B teams remain to be seen.
- TV coverage (assumption on my part)
- No domestic teams after 2011
- Women’s racing status unknown
So Tour of California in May, good or bad? Time will tell. What do you think?