Monday, February 23, 2009

Tour of California Notes: The Concluding Stages.

Leipheimer, for the third consecutive year, pretty much dominated this year's tour. Which is cool. He even dropped Lance, and the rest of his teammates, on the Alpe d'Huez-esque Palomar Mt. climb yesterday. Which is also cool.

Proving that a stage race replete with cold rainy weather, nasty climbs, and a tricky time trial really is a lot to handle in February, over 50 men dropped out by the time the Tour was all said and done. Most riders, in February, are still recovering from off-season hangovers and removing cyclocross mud from their ear folds. It's very early in the season to tackle a proper stage race, especially for riders who aren't planning on peaking until July. Unless your fist name starts with a L and rhymes with brings to mind a certain denim company. LL proved, once again, that it's totally okay to peak in February.

Which brings up an interesting scenario: Because California has a very brief time period where it's highly likely to rain, and this happens to overlap with the wildly-successful Tour of Cal, organizers are contemplating moving the race to later in the season calendar--April or May. This late in the spring, riders are finding their form--they've already conquered many of the Spring Classics, and they're preparing their hematocrit levels for July. Which makes me wonder...if the race were moved to later in the season, could Levi still win? He would have to completely re-adjust his training schedule, obviously. He might enjoy more couch time in December if he knows he's not expected to peak in February.

I, for one, really hope the race is moved to later in the season--not because I have anything against Levi, but because I think it would make for a more interesting race. More fit contenders, better weather, and a strategic placement before the True Tour. Of course, it could have the opposite effect--the Dauphiné Libéré and Tour de Suisse are currently the pre-Tour prep races. If the Tour of Cal is moved too close to the Giro d' Italia, many of the top European riders could very well choose to stay on the other side of the Atlantic, where the real racing occurs. Which would be such a shame. North America finally has a decent race.

BUT, if the UCI picks a decent date, and the Tour of Cal folks continue organizing a very classy stage race, maybe, just maybe, Levi won't have to peak in February.

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