That's right Cutters, the Italians are coming, along with the French, the Spaniards, the Americans, the Germans, the Dutch-- yeah, even the Dutch. They're all going to be in the City this weekend to compete in this year's Amgen Tour of California.
We're talking the real deal. This isn't some club-level Saturday morning crit for free tubes at the local bike shop (no offense), this it the best road cyclists in the world, competing for top-tier elite international cycling teams like Discovery Channel, CSC, T-Mobile, Rabobank, and more, in serious competition.
The eight-stage road race starts with a prologue time trial in the City on Sunday. Each subsequent stage features a different course as the riders make their way around the Bay Area for three more days before heading south towards the ultimate finish line in Long Beach on Sunday, February 25.
2006 prologue winner Levi Leipheimer looks to conquer Telegraph Hill again this year on his way to becoming the 2007 Tour of California GC winner. Photo from Chainreaction.com.
In just its second year, the Tour of California is already arguably the most important road race in the western hemisphere. In addition to drawing top international competition, the tour is a great showcase for the state and a great spectator event for local residents and cycling fans. Now we too can live out our Tour de France dreams of getting really, really drunk, stripping down to our red, white, and blue bicycle shorts, and running alongside David Zabriskie for 100 yards shouting unintelligibly at the top of our lungs before getting taken out by a camera motorbike. Good times.