By Sue George
Although announced formally this week, the eight-day February's Tour of California's route is subject to further adjustment due to road construction at several sites along Highway 1. Stage 1 from Sausalito to Santa Rosa will be affected; the stage now runs through Marin along the Pacific Ocean.
The road construction issue was not mentioned during the announcement of the route, but organizers already knew of the road construction from California's Department of Transportation (Caltrans).
"It was last week that Caltrans brought to our attention that we should develop a contingency plan. We've been working with Caltran and CHP [California Highway Patrol] on that particular issue. We were fortunate to have resources out there at the time to look closer at options," Jim Birrell, Managing Partner of Medalist Sports, told Cyclingnews.
The Marin Independent Journal reported that road repairs on the affected sections would not be completed until mid-March, long after the race. They proposed several alternative routes and weighed pros and cons of each.
However, organizers aren't revealing any of their options. Birrell declined to comment on any alternatives for fear of jeopardizing the approval process. "Now that we have all the intelligence we need, we're going to the county to go through the permit process." He promised that fans would not be disappointed. "The options will provide great vistas for photo-journalists."
When asked about the process for route approval, Birrell said, "We started the route design [for 2007] before the 2006 edition even happened. We started out at state level because 90% of the roads are state-owned, and then we worked down, but it's a collaborative effort. We've been working through process to get sign-off from all involved jurisdictions so there would be no surprises for local jurisdictions. So as of yesterday, when we announced the route, we had 100% support from all localities."