Moving Tour of California to May, good or bad?

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.

Harsh weather conditions at the 2009 Amgen Tour of California

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.

Will we see this again? Then domestic-rider Ivan Dominguez (Toyota-United) wins Tour of California stage

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?

Let’s recap:

  • 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?

3 thoughts on “Moving Tour of California to May, good or bad?”

  1. Great article. You summed up most of my thoughts and then some. I am not expecting Tour of Georgia to come back but now I hope it does if ATOC is going to be ProTour/ProConti starting in 2011. I was thinking that about Oregon Bicycle classic as well. I know the organizers are very frustrated. I also think Volta Catalunya is going to lose its Pro Tour status. I dont think it will dissapear, just drop to the level of other races such as Murcia, Valencia.

    I think the main problem is now that with the combination of technology (faster speeds) and bland course profiles, you see the majority of these races as maybe one single mountain finish and maybe a prologue or ITT surrounded by a bunch of field sprint days. Missouri is a classic example of this. It is right there with Tour of Denmark and Tour of Luxembourg for being basically just taking up a spot on the calendar. I have The Three Grand Tours, followed by Paris-Nice and then ATOC tied with Dauphine-Liberie on the stage race rankings. I think the race should abandon its Pro Tour aspirations and make it a national monument like the other nations have and build up the number of days and go up into Sierra Nevadas and even into the desert that will be nice and toasty in May.

  2. I think the stress of the February scheduling was definitely wearing on the ToC, with the weather and the increasingly tougher course, so I personally felt the move was inevitable. I’m surprised to see it in May instead of April (as a drop-in replacement for the TdG), but the later the better for the Sierras.

    The ToC hasn’t had a different storyline in three years, so for the sake of interesting-ness I’m for it.

  3. Good move for AToC. The weather would eventually discourage new fans, and if the race stays north to south, expect some epic stages in the southern and southeast Sierras where there’s enough real estate to host a mountain top finish (I can only think of a couple places in the northern Sierra that could do that, and the traffic problems could make them impractical.)

    Teams will have to spend some serious coin if they expect to be in Italy and CA at same time.


Leave a Comment