Armstrong says yes to Tour of California, arrivederci to Giro.

Tour of California 2009. Just add sunshine & Radio Shack.

Tour of California 2009. Just add sunshine & Radio Shack.

A big no to the Giro.

It was a double big day for American stage racing. First, the route announcement for the 2010 Tour de California with more climbing, harder stages and thanks to the new Spring date, no umbrellas. After last February’s week long downpour, the chances of May sunshine are mighty good.

The second news flash is that Lance Armstrong finished his eeny-meeny-miny-moe game between the Giro and Tour of California. He ain’t going to Italy, cycling fans. Twisted Spoke went out on an editorial limb claiming Lance would never forgive Giro boss Angelo Zomegnan’s insults. No Giro pasta this time around, just California spring rolls.

Specific stage details are yet to be determined but the basics of the eight stage race are nailed down. “I will say that the course and the route will be harder than it was in 2009,” said Andrew Messick, president of Tour of California organizer AEG. “We’re not going to talk about climbs or specifics,” he added.

Really, who needs specifics once you’ve got the biggest prize — 7 time Tour de France winner Armstrong and his brand new Radio Shack team tuning up for Alberto Contador and the Tour de France.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger started the Twitter tease campaign that kicked off the route announcement by inviting Armstrong to ride. The Texan responded immediately with a yes, then the tweets rolled in from Dave Zabriskie, Levi Leipheimer plus Mr. Stars & Stripes, George Hincapie. No word from Alberto Contador but he’s a little busy tossing out his Astana kit and entertaining new offers. We’re sure Lance will send him a postcard from sunny California.

Top US squads Garmin-Slipstream, Columbia HTC and BMC will all be in Nevada City for the opening stage on the Tour of California, which runs from May 16th to the 23rd — unless Lance wants even more training. In which case the dates will be extended and race officials will find a few more climbs.

Saxo Bank, Liquigas and Quick Step all now feverishly comparing the race profile of the Tour of California and the Giro to decide which makes more sense. Will the Brothers Schleck, the boy scouts on wheels, come to get a close look at Armstrong’s form or stay in Europe? Hard to say.

All we know is the Italian media won’t have the “Texan slipper-seller,” as they called him at the Giro, to kick around anymore. Armstrong is headed to California.

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  • henkio

    Wow, what a battle. A 100 year old GT or the 10th most important stage race on the calendar.

    Even with big names, the TOC will be a warm-up round.

    • walshworld

      Hi Henkio. Good to see you back and I like the way you nailed it short and sweet. A good point. By the way what would you rank as 4 though 9? We in California could be guilt of over-rating the home tour but you'd have to admit the tour gets a lot of positive comments from foreign riders. And the way the head of the Giro trashed Lance last year, wee, there was no way Lance was forgiving that.

  • henkio

    Hi Walsh 🙂
    I have to admit I liked the ToC a lot so far, but that could have been because of it's place on the calender.

    Together with the Tour Down Under it's something to look forward to before the season really kicks off with the Omloop het Volk (Well, the Dutch and Belgians think that's the real start. I guess the Italians have Laigueglia or even Sanremo and the French Haut-var, but that's off-topic).

    Placing the ToC in may will steel it's shine (no pun intended) and there will be more reasons for riders not to make the long trip.

    In my completely biased Euro opinion 4-9 are:
    4. Tour de Suisse
    5. Paris – Nice
    6. Dauphiné Libéré
    7. Tour de Romandie
    8. Tirreno – Adriatico
    9. Vuelta al Pais Vasco

    And there's also the Volta a Cataluna and the Eneco Tour.

    What do you think?

    • walshworld

      A good list, no arguments there. I do think riders like a break sometimes. Europe is the pressure cooker of cycling. They can come over here, do the TOC, get some hard racing in and prep for the tour without really wearing themselves out with a three week Giro grind. Just depends on what riders need to get ready for France. I suppose. The TOC is only going to get better and harder and I should think it's a breath of fresh air for many foreign riders.