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