This Sunday the 16th of May is the start of the 5th and increasingly popular Amgen Tour of California. Since 2006 this stage race has increased in popularity even though it has suffered from terrible weather conditions and has been run a bit too early in the year for some of the Pro’s. For 2010 the race has moved from February to mid May in the hope of some sunshine and plenty of crowds. What the organisers have also done is pitch the race up against the mighty Giro, which has already proved hugely entertaining, mainly for the wrong reasons ( if you haven’t seen – plenty of crashes, more crashes and Wiggins 4 minutes down. Chapeau to Cadel’s final charge though). Can it live up to the expectation?
A quick glance at the start list would suggest yes! Lance, Cavendish, Cancellara, Boonen, A.Schleck, Nibali, George Hincapie and H. Haussler bring a true Pro Tour group of riders to the race and its also easy to see who’s there to do what – sprint, climb and TT to the line. A fact the organisers are keen to point out, is that 2 of the 3 podium finishers in last years TDF are here.
So the race itself:
Headlines: 16 teams, 8 stages, 810 miles and some of America’s most amazing scenery and cities along the way.
The stages to watch
A small town, of around 3000 people. Nevada City is the start town for stage 1.
An unusual stage in that it’s mostly downhill and with sprint points its bound to be fast and lively as the riders arrange themselves and settle down.
Anyone who’s driven this road will know what I’m talking about – a truly picturesque setting with some tough little climbs. Hopefully the wind won’t blow things apart too much for an exciting fast finish into Santa Cruz
The ‘flagship’ stage with a climb up to the Big Bear resort where many of you will have skied in winter time. I think also one of the reasons the race has been pushed back to May is for the snow to properly clear. The stage features 3660m of climbing, a fair bit even by our Euro standards! The summit as at 2133m and will be a long day at 135 miles (and hopefully some sunshine!).
Once at the summit there are around 15 miles of flat/rolling terrain which could negate any attacks made on the climb if a group can work together, likewise a group of attackers that worked could probably stick it out. But as ever we will have to wait and see.
An added bonus of the time zones is that everyone in Europe can return home after a hard day and watch the race live, followed hopefully by the Giro highlights. How’s that for turbo trainer motivation! Short of building a time machine anyone in Aus and NZ will have to set their alarm clocks a bit earlier and have a morning off work
The riders are all competing for the Yellow overall jersey, with Lance, Hincapie, Cancellara and Leipheimer being solid riders. Cancellara is a particular PBK office favourite at the moment with his monstrous power. These guys are sure to give it a good shot and with their respective teams protecting them and any lead they get. Will Lance flourish here in front of his home crowd? Can Fabian TT away from them all and solo to the finish?
There are the usual other jerseys on offer as well. Nibali is surely in with a shout for the Mountains or maybe Schleck? (Red) and Cavendish for the Sprinters (Green). Hopefully now after his (brief but fast) Romandie warm-up he’s ready to show the rest how it’s done – come on Cav and the HTC train!!!
So, good luck Cav, lets hope Lance can give it a good go, Fabian keep smashing those power meters to pieces and could a relatively unknown rider break through? Let us know your thoughts and tips for the race.