The Amgen Tour of California announced their 10th anniversary route today which by omission did not include Sonoma County for the May 10-17th race. California has so much to offer in its varied landscape, so when Lodi, Ontario and San Jose are featured cities in this years tour I can only think this event is doomed. Any third grader could probably come up with a better list than the organizers did this year. Heck, a bunch sprint down Main Street at Disneyland would have been better than anything offered this year.
Professional cycling is at a crossroads right now. The doping scandals, the failing Euro, and organizers themselves seem to be scratching their heads as to how to make these events viable. Face it, how many professional sports can you watch the stars roll by within 10 feet for free? What works for the Tour de France is that for three weeks viewers see this unbelievable postcard of the beauty of France unfold on television. Viewers book their vacations and the host cities reap the benefits. The bidding for host cities is fierce, advertisers cash in on the audience and the revenue rolls in for the organizers.
So here we are with this years Tour of California. I don’t see anyone being inspired to book that family vacation to Lodi. Why not have Mt Shasta, Yosemite, or Lake Tahoe included? Anyone of those locations would be more inspiring than rolling past a strip mall on Foothill Blvd. Both the Tour of Utah and US Pro Challenge in Colorado seem to do a much better job featuring their respective landmarks.
Back to exclusion of Sonoma County. My insider tells me that Santa Rosa made a vigorous effort to host the beginning of the race. It seems that politics, which is something that Sacramento is known for, won the day. A suggestion to the organizing committee. If disrupting downtown Santa Rosa in the afternoon is a problem, then why not host the start and have a finish at Sonoma Raceway?
A stage where riders roll around the vistas of the county for 90 miles and then finish with ten circuits of Sonoma Raceway. Fans, teams and sponsors could all congregate at one place and I suspect the racing on hilly road course would not be too bad either. Riders flying into the tight turn seven at 50 mph or suffering up though the turn two wall would be great. The fixed position cameras would give the viewers a perspective rarely seen on television as well. Downtown Santa Rosa traffic would get a reprieve while showcasing our incredible landscape to the world.
You have several months to figure it out. I think it would be awesome.