The 2012 Amgen Tour of California - It's not too early to start guessing
With six months until the 2012 Amgen Tour of California it's time to weigh in on who will win.
Love was in the air this past week in the cycling world. Brent Bookwalter of Team BMC Racing exchanged wedding vows Saturday. Also walking down the aisle was Team Saxo Bank's Alberto Contador marrying his long-time novia Macarena Pescador. This was followed by a brief honeymoon in Rome. However, if the upcoming CAS ruling doesn't go his way he might have a two-year extension on that romantic get away.
In interviews Contador claims to be calm about the upcoming season and seems to have learned from his mistake of tackling the Giro d' Italia and the Tour de France in the same season. The Giro is a tough mistress and riders won't have the energy to cheat on her with the Tour de France. Contador and other riders are realizing that they need to make a commitment between these two Grand Tours. And if one of these Grand Tours goes badly, there's always the Vuelta a Espana waiting in the wings, willing to take you back no matter how many times you've cheated on her with other national tours. If riders are deciding to stay loyal to the Tour where will they race during May?
Just released this week was the start and end cities of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California. While the exact route hasn't been finalized it has been theorized that this edition could be the toughest. Kicking off May 13th this eight-stage race will start in Santa Rosa and finish in Los Angeles in undoubtedly a circuit type of stage in the downtown area. In between those two stages the racers will face 750 miles of racing with a few changes to the plot. Wisely, Lake Tahoe was taken off the route as we all know what happened last year - or to be more exact - what didn't happen. A snow storm came in causing the stage to be canceled and the following day's start was moved out of town. A bold experiment, but one that wasn't fully investigated as those types of storms are not uncommon. But like the saying goes, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
While the time trial still looks to be a pivotal stage in the race, it has been moved out of the sleepy town of Solvang to Bakersfield - most notably known for being the hometown of country singer Buck Owens and the Dwight Yoakam song, "Streets of Bakersfield." I feel confident enough to state that the race against the clock will feature the climb out of the bluff near the Bakersfield college campus - the same one the riders faced in 2010 when the stage ended in this desert city. While not a hard ascent, it will cause significant time gaps in the field. Another factor in Bakersfield is the possible atmospheric conditions. During the month of May the average temperature in Fahrenheit is 83 degrees (28.8 Celsius) - not exceedingly hot, but the only shade riders will find in this desert city is from one of the many oil pumping machines that dot the landscape.
After the race of truth