Colorado is gone but California is bigger than ever.
The 2016 edition of the Tour of California, the first with ASO managing the race, promises to be kick ass in every way. The guest list is off the hook, as the kids say.
We’re promised a sprinter shootout of epic proportion with Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Mr California Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) joined by Marcel Kittel (Giant) and Alexander Kristof (Katusha) all going full gas. That’s crazy good fun in the California sun.
Now Sagan may own California with 12 stage wins (and last year’s GC title) and Cavendish is still Mr. Pistachio but Kittel is back and killing it and Kistoff has already proved he knows how to beat the the Brit. This is Tour de France sprint cage match in mid-May.
We don’t know who the GC contenders will be yet but potentially Sky could bring back Sergio Henao who placed third in last year’s edition. Lotto NL-Jumbo might send out former winner Robert Gesink, who loves to ride in the states.
Etixx-Quickstep may well put second place finisher Julian Alaphilippe on the plane for the start town of San Diego. (And would Boonen like a quick vacation after all that cobblestone pressure and stress?) Would Cannondale like to show off Pierre Rolland’s new time trial skills while teammate Rigoberto Uran tackles the Giro d’Italia?
Then there’s the time trial battle between Bradley Wiggins, making his return to the race he won two years ago, and the man he took the Hour Record away from, BMC’s Rohan Dennis.
Wiggo beat Dennis in the Folsom chrono last time around — and speaking of BMC, will Taylor Phinney be in any shape to contend? We are hope so even if he is feeling pretty philosophical about the cosmos these days. Would Spartacus come to California to say goodbye with his US-based Trek squad? Will Jens Voigt come out of retirement just to have some fun in the TOC?
The 2016 Tour of California has plenty of excitement lined up and some we can’t even begin to predict. Will Cannonade’s Phil Gaimon eat too many chocolate chip cookies and explode mid-race? The the French Direct Énergie squad bring Thomas Voeckler and his crazy wagging tongue to the Sierra mountains?
Will we get the funny Wiggo or the annoyed Wiggo? Will Axel Merckx’s band of precocious talents spring a stage win surprise? Will he Aussie duo of Lachlan and Angus Morton throw jelly beans at each other? Will a moto knock over half the peloton on the road to Heavenly Mountain Resort?
Will the El Nino Winter suddenly drop a foot of snow in Tahoe like it did three of four years ago, cancelling a stage and shortening another?
This is going to be a rockin’ Tour of California. I’m booking hotels today.
UCI WorldTour (10):
- BMC Racing Team (USA)
- Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (USA)
- Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team (BEL)
- Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka (RSA)
- Team Giant – Alpecin (GER)
- Team KATUSHA (RUS)
- Team Lotto NL – Jumbo (NED)
- Team Sky (GBR)
- Tinkoff (RUS)
- Trek – Segafredo (USA)
UCI Professional Continental Teams (3):
- Direct Énergie (FRA)
- Team Novo Nordisk (USA)
- UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team (USA)
UCI Continental Teams (5):
- Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team (USA)
- Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team p/b Hincapie Sportswear (USA)
- Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis (USA)
- Rally Cycling (USA)
- Team WIGGINS (GBR)