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February 18/06 6:59 am - Tour of California: Preview


Posted by Editoress on 02/18/06
 

Amgen Tour of California Preview

Reports made possible by the support of MAXXIS

We are approximately 17 hours from the start of the first edition of the Amgen Tour de California. The race begins for the 16 teams with a 3.1 kilometre prologue up the famous Telegraph Hill at 10 am (Pacific). The first half is a flat run next to the Bay along the Embarcadero before making a left onto Bay, then left on to Stockton when the final one kilometre of the climb begins. The riders are on Stockton for 300 metres before another left onto Lombard for the final climb up to the finish. In that final kilometre the vertical gain is a staggering 250 metres, for an average grade of 25%. I saw the Coors Classic run up this course in 1988, and riders were weaving back forth across the road.

We don't have a start list yet (there will be a draw for start positions at the managers meeting in a couple of hours). So, here are some tidbits to be going on with:

- It has been raining off and on here, and the prediction is more of the same tomorrow morning, with temperatures in the high single digits/low teens. The weather is supposed to stay the same until stage three, when it should dry out and warm up.

- Early start lists had François Parisien here for TIAA-CREF, however, you probably have already noticed that he is currently in Portugal for the Volta a Algarve...

- I ran into Charles Dionne (Saunier Duval) in the race hotel HQ lobby. He says that he is feeling good, but it is still early season and he has only one race under his belt (Mallorca).

- There is a the potential that sprinter Ivan Dominguez, riding for the new Toyota-United Pro Team may not start. He missed the presentation last night, and the word is he is banged up after a confrontation with a motorist while training. The details are unclear (whether he was hit by a car, or had a physical confrontation), and word keeps changing on whether or not he is fit to race. We will find out in the morning.

- The team presentation was an extremely chichi affair. $8000 (US) a table for attendees; tuxedoes and evening gowns galore.

- While there are eight ProTour teams in the race, the early favourites are Team CSC (Zabriskie, Voigt, Julich, O'Grady), Discovery (Salvoldelli, Danielson, Ekimov, Hincapie), T-Mobile (Rogers). All of these teams have strong time trialers, and we are expecting the 27 kilometre time trial on Wednesday (stage 3) to be critical in spreading out the field.

- Canada has six riders in the race: Dionne, Michael Barry (Discovery), Gord Fraser (Health Net presented by Maxxis), Mark Walters (Navigators), Dom Perras and Martin Gilbert (Kodakgallery.com-Sierra Nevada)

 


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