By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
Despite the recent announcements of a few North American UCI and NRC races canceling or postponing for 2009, there is still good news for American race fans. The long-running Tour de Nez, located in the Reno and Lake Tahoe areas on the Nevada-California border, is back again from June 16-21 and is focusing more on its roots - a party that launched a bike race.
The 2008 edition was a rebirth of sorts that consisted of huge growth - from a downsized pair of criteriums in 2007 into a four-stage omnium that featured two challenging road races at the Northstar ski resort. But for 2009, the race wants to refocus itself to bring out the social aspect that made it popular over the years.
"The whole point in 2009 is to recreate the whole party aspect of Nez that seemed to slip a little with the growth last year," race director Tim Helion told Cyclingnews.
The two main changes are the return to well-known downtown Reno criterium, which was moved to a casino last year -- and the elimination of the larger road race around the Northstar resort, which while epic, posed road closure challenges that Healion said are being addressed. Still Northstar will be featured as the finale, with the circuit course that rides right through the middle of the resort village.
The change of the Reno criterium away from the downtown in 2008 was significant, and the city's higher-ups realized the event's worth when it was gone. "The City of Reno stepped up and demanded that we bring it back to the downtown course," said Healion. "It is the epic legendary Tour de Nez single day course; ten turns [with] a chicane, down on the river [with] short steep hills."
But of course the main focus are the parties that encompass the racing, which according to Healion, will culminate on the final day at the Northstar resort. "[A] big party in Truckee, big party in downtown Reno, and a big party at the grand finale at Northstar!"