Tour of California "stronger than ever"

The organisers of the Tour of California announced the host cities for the 2013 race, rolling out eight stages heading north from Escondido and finishing in Santa Rosa.

The announcement was delayed by several weeks compared with previous years, and this combined with reluctance by some host city applicants to put out the reported $100,000 required by organiser AEG to host a stage, and news that AEG itself was up for sale, led to doubts about the race's future.

However, race director Kristin Bachochin, Senior Vice President of AEG Sports, played down any worries about AEG and the stability of the event.

"We're just as strong if not stronger," Bachochin told Cyclingnews. "It's business as usual for all of us at AEG. Nothing has changed in terms of the overall support and commitment to continuing to grow this race."

Solvang's Local Organizing Committee confirmed today that it had bid to host the time trial in 2012 and 2013, but said "we were not able to meet the Tour’s increased hosting criteria and financial requirements specific to the Time Trial stage".

The Livermore city council, which will host the penultimate stage's start prior to the mountain top finish at Mt. Diablo State Park, had originally declined to set aside the funds necessary to subsidize the stage. But according to the San Jose Mercury News, donations from private sponsors and community groups combined with a new commitment of $35,000 from the city was enough to keep it in the race.

"We have a fantastic relationship with [Livermore], and there was never a day they didn't want to be part of the Amgen Tour of California," Bachochin said. "Every city is different, but they understand the overall value for the race coming to their cities."

It is a time when an alarming number of California cities are struggling: San Bernardino, Mammoth Lakes and Stockton have all filed for bankruptcy protection this year, but Bachochin said the Tour of California had more applicants than it could select to host the race.

"The positive thing is that we continue to receive more bids every year, and one of the challenging things from our side is that the state of California is so large, and there are so many beautiful areas to highlight. But we only have eight days to work with, and there are only so many cities we can go to."

The cycling world is still reeling from the revelations which came to light regarding Lance Armstrong and the widespread doping in the peloton which took place prior to the Tour of California's existence, and Rabobank has decided it would stop putting its name to professional cycling.

However, Bachochin confirmed to Cyclingnews that the bank, which has a strong presence in California, will be continuing as a sponsor of the event.

She also confirmed that the women's time trial will be included for the third year in a row on May 16, coinciding with the men's stage.

San Jose will host the time trial on the sixth stage of the race, which begins in Escondido on May 12 and concludes in Santa Rosa on May 19. Bachochin said the course will likely be similar to the one used in the first edition of the Tour in 2006.

"I'm committed to putting on the women's time trial," she said, but any plan to expand the racing to more days is further in the future.

"It's something I have looked at, but it really depends on how the stages play out. We do know it's do-able to focus on that one day with the time trial, and it's really successful for the teams and the riders. We're definitely moving forward with that for 2013."

Expect to see only 16 teams and 128 riders in the 2013 race, but the composition of the field in terms of WorldTour, Pro Continental and Continental teams is still to be determined.

"We're still in the process of evaluating all of our teams and extending invitations. I can't really share any details at this point," Bachochin said.


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