Sea Otter has been a fixture on the cycling calendar since 1991. It often serves as a springboard from which companies launch innovative products and athletes boost pro racing careers. Riders like Tom Boonen and Olympic gold medalist Julien Absalon have attended in the past.
"The Sea Otter Classic is a big classic at the beginning of the season, same as Roc d'Azur in France is a classic at the end of the season," said Absalon. "We don't have a lot of races in the US. Sea Otter is the only international race of the season, so maybe it's the only chance to race in the US for European riders."
In 2008, the event is scheduled for April 17-20 and will feature road racing, recreational rides, a demo area (including a new pump track) and various kids' events. Unfortunately the date clashes with the UCI World Cup opening cross country round in Houffalize, Belgium. Sea Otter does not conflict with a gravity World Cup, but some Olympic cross country contenders, especially those still battling for a spot on their nation's Olympic team, may opt for the World Cup as their top choice for that weekend.
"Because of the importance Sea Otter has as an event, it is often more than just racing to the athletes," Wendy Booher, Media Coordinator, said to Cyclingnews when asked about the scheduling conflict. "For some, it is their only North American stop in a packed racing calendar and, while it is an unfortunate coincidence that Sea Otter falls on the same weekend as a World Cup cross-country race, the roster of events plus the quantity of participants as well as its venue and location should be attractive to racers both old and new."