Stage 2: Davis - Santa Rosa
The second stage from Davis to Santa Rosa will begin on roads familiar from the 2009 edition, taking in the flat first third of the stage before entering the hills of Napa County, but new for 2010 will be a bit of a speed hump before the fast downhill run into Santa Rosa - the Trinity Road climb.
The route starts out flat, tame roads before heading into the rolling hills that skirt Lake Berryessa, providing a good warm-up for the first major climb on Howell Mountain road, where the students of Pacific Union College will once again line the sides of the road for the KOM sprint just outside their campus gates.
After a twisting plunge into the heart of wine country, the riders will be diverted from last year's route, heading across the valley and up to the daunting Trinity Road summit used in the opposite direction in previous years.
A steeper approach to the summit on Trinity Road from the east should make for an exciting sprint for the KOM, and with only a bit more than 30km to Santa Rosa, it should make the chase back by the sprinters much more difficult than in previous years.
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The race already gets hard and hilly before the European teams have totally gotten over jet lag, as this day heads up the backside of Trinity Grade just 30 kilometres from the finish line. In past years, this is the type of stage where Levi Leipheimer would put his stamp of authority on the event and leave the rest of us racing for second place.
I imagine this year Levi has a similar plan in mind, as a win in his hometown of Santa Rosa would be a dream come true for him. With strong climbers like Vincenzo Nibali coming to the race this year, and the event being at a later date where more riders are approaching 100 per cent of their fitness, things won't be as simple for Leipheimer as in the past.
I'd look more for a group of 5 to 15 elite climbers and GC contenders sprinting out the finish in Santa Rosa. Someone who can climb and sprint a bit would be my pick. Maybe George Hincapie if he's not too tired from the Classics? Or a guy that can sprint better than most little climbers: Lance Armstrong.
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