By Mark Zalewski in Reno, Nevada
The Tour de Nez has held a prominent position in American racing over the better part of 15 years. But after a 2007 edition, which saw a significant decrease in racing with just two criteriums and was not on the NRC calendar, the Tour de Nez is back for 2008 en force. In addition to the two well known criteriums, the Northstar Resort on the north shore of Lake Tahoe comes on as a major sponsor and will host two challenging road races on its ski slopes. Rounding out the racing will be a short but tough 4 mile time trial, with seventy-five percent of it uphill.
The action begins Wednesday with the Reno, Nevada criterium, held in the downtown of the "Biggest Little City in the World" under the entrance of another new sponsor, the Grand Sierra Casino. The race then heads west into California for a double stage – time trial and criterium – on Thursday. Friday and Saturday will be the deciding days, with a 100km road race on Friday with consistent climbing of 8% and sections of 15% around the Northstar Resort. Saturday finishes the race with a shorter circuit race that could still affect a close overall general classification.
In terms of teams, Bissell is the strongest on the preliminary roster with seven riders led by Tour of the Gila final stage winner Burke Swindlehurst. BMC is sending five riders including last year's criterium winner Mike Sayers and Tour de Leelanau winner Taylor Tolleson. Kelly Benefits/Medifast comes off a high from Nature Valley with strong riders like Andrew Bajadali and last year's overall winner Alex Candelario. Two-time overall winner Eric Wohlberg (Symmetrics) will also be on hand.
Another addition to the racing this year will be a women's open race on Saturday on the circuit race course. Race director Tim Helion is enthusiastic about the potential of this resurgence. "We are pretty confident that with our new partnerships with Northstar at Tahoe and the Grand Sierra in Reno this race is going to take a significant leap in status this year," he said.
Cyclingnews will have full reports and photos of all the action.