To increase the stage one excitement of the Tour of California on February 18, organizers are adding a women's criterium which will use portions of the men's stage one finishing circuit in Santa Rosa.
125 women on teams of no more than eight are expected to compete for US$10,000 in prizes before the finish of the men's race. The race is the latest addition to the NRC calendar and in fact will open the women's NRC season. Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine Women's Professional Cycling Team) will be on hand to begin the defense of her overall 2007 NRC title.
"The Tour of California Women's Criterium, a race within a race, is the ideal way to launch and showcase this exciting new edition to our schedule of events, while presenting these great women cyclists to the tens of thousands who will see them along the route in downtown Santa Rosa," said race director and former pro Laura Charameda.
"The 2008 NRC calendar has done a great job of stepping up and meeting the rise in popularity and talent in the women's peloton, and the Amgen Tour of California Women's Criterium is the perfect headliner event," said Anna Lang, professional cyclist, Aaron's Pro Women's Cycling Team. "The promoters have done a great job of course selection and ensuring a good turnout of the top teams. This event will be a good preview of the season."