San Diego Addition to Tour of California Makes For “mini Tour de France”

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When Foreign Cycling Team Managers start referring to the Tour de California as a “mini Tour de France”, you know this four-year old bike race has finally come of age.

America has made many attempts over the years to create a bike race on our soil that would be respected among the cycling elites around the world. There have been many fits and starts. I got to see some of the attempts first-hand growing up in Wilmington, DE during the 1980s. Wilmington was frequently both the start and end points for the Tour de Trump, sponsored by The Donald, and then the Tour du Pont.

If any readers remember those races, I’ll never forget sitting at the bottom of Monkey Hill during time trials. The cyclists would head down the street that changed from blacktop to cobblestone and then made a 90 degree right turn.  Making the 90 degree turn while heading downhill on cobblestone was as nerve wracking for the spectator to watch as it was for the cyclist who had to navigate the corner. It was even worse during a couple of the years when there was a light drizzle making it nearly impossible to make a clean turn going any faster than a snail’s pace. We, the spectators, could always tell when a spectacular crash was impending just by judging the speed of the cyclist heading down the hill. (We tried to warn them to no avail. One even took out a street sign well after his body had left the bike.)

Unfortunately, sponsorship eventually waned and the race disappeared.

Anyways, back to the point of this post. The 2009 edition of the Amgen Tour of California is the fourth year of the newest attempt at creating an internationally respectable race in the States.

This is the first year San Diego is being added to the route. For a first time site, it is impressive the San Diego route will serve as the final stage of the nine-day race.

What makes it more impressive is the amount of attention the San Diego route is getting from the international press and foreign cycling teams who will be competing in the race.  The Norwegian cycling web site Syklingens Verden quotes one of the team managers saying “This year’s California is kind of like a mini-Tour de France 2009″ as a result of adding the San Diego stage. The team manager went on to compare the climb up to Palomar Mountain to the venerable Mont Ventoux stage of the Tour de France, the king of all cycling races.

Palomar Mountain is the centerpiece of the final stage in San Diego. At a summit of 5,123 feet, Palomar Mountain will be the highest peak ever included in the Tour of California.

The Tour of California will get an extra boost of attention with Lance Armstrong’s return to racing. In an interview with Velo News, which is posted on the fan web site for his Astana Team, Armstrong noted, “The first time I ever rode Palomar Mountain was in 1987. It’s been 22 years since I did it for the first time. I’ve done it many times since then. It’s an epic climb, I should say it’s a real climb.”  Armstrong is one of the most respected climbers in cycling and to have him call the Palomar climb ‘epic’ has the whole world watching this final Stage 8 in San Diego.

The cycling world’s largest contingent of fans are in Europe. For the first time, those fans will be able to watch American’s premier race during Prime Time in Europe. The Tour of California will be carried live by Eurosport.

So, get out there and cheer San Diego. The bike race in San Diego will be the most anticipated stage of the most prominent race in America and it will be seen live around the world.  This is San Diego’s big opportunity to make a lasting impression and encourage the world to come and visit one of the world’s best cities!

Visit the San Diego stage map for the Tour of California for more details.

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One Response to “San Diego Addition to Tour of California Makes For “mini Tour de France””

  1. The Best Places in San Diego says:

    Turns out you can follow Lance Armstrong on Twitter as he writes about his experience at the Tour of California: http://twitter.com/LanceArmstrong

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