The announcement of the Tour of California parcours for 2009 during the broadcast of the Tour de France in America was no accident, as the promoters of the race, AEG, have partnered with the Amaury Sports Organization. Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski spoke with AEG Sports' president Andrew Messick, who revealed that the race would see its first mountain top finish on Mt. Palomar.
The Tour of California is once again expanding – both in terms of quantity and quality. A recent partnership between promoter AEG and Tour de France organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) will allow the American event to get more worldwide coverage.
The race will be nine days long in 2009, something that Messick said was necessary to do what the promoters wanted to accomplish. "The nine stages allows a number of things. It allows us to cover the geography of California. It's so big and we are now able to get down to San Diego County and south."
One of the aspects left off the press release announcement is that the final stage near San Diego will actually be a mountain top finish, a first for the race. "The final stage is planned to be a mountain stage up Mt. Palomar. Whoever wins the race will have to have legs on the final day!"
"We want to reach out the cycling community in San Diego which is huge and to have a mountain top finish to the race will be exciting."
Running the race through more of southern California is just one the requests by the fans, the media and the riders themselves. Another item on the wish list was to utilize the bigger mountains of the Golden State such as the Sierra Nevada near Lake Tahoe. However, having the race so early in the season means the courses need to be adapted to the riders' level of conditioning – and that the roads of the upper elevations are often closed with snow. But Messick said the 2009 race will try to compromise between the two.
"Merced to Clovis will not be a central valley stage but head east and skirt the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada foothills. It will be beautiful and challenging, but not high enough that we will have to contend with ice and snow."