Hein Verbruggen, governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and a huge entertainment company are all behind thePIC BY TDWSPORT.COM Further details have emerged of the Tour of California, scheduled for February 2006, at a press conference held in Los Angeles on Friday, in the presence of UCI president Hein Verbruggen and California's Secretary of Education Richard Riordan - and with the blessing of state governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. With a five-year development budget in the region of $35 million dollars (i.e. $7m per year for five years), promoters AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group) are determined to turn the event into one of the "top three races in the world." They should be taken at their word. At the press conference in the new soccer stadium that AEG have built, Verbruggen told the tale of how, a few years ago, he had promised to support a Californian-based stage race, but on condition that AEG build a world class velodrome. By 2004 the new track was in place. AEG have become one of America's leading sports and entertainment promoters with sports franchises such as the LA Lakers in the NBA and a host of other hockey and merchandising groups. They have also recently bought London's infamous Millennium Dome, with a view to developing the controversial structure into a sports and entertainment site. With the success of Lance Armstrong, a new road race based in the States became too good an opportunity for AEG to miss. "The vision for this race came because of the world's greatest ever cyclist - Lance Armstrong," said Timothy Leiweke, president of AEG. "It is a new vision for cycling which means that the world's greatest rider doesn't have to go abroad to realise his greatness." Although short on specifics, the promoters and those representing the Governor's office were long on enthusiasm. "We look at the Tour de France as our model and we're going to take our time to build this race," said Leiweke. "It's a long-term commitment." "We're looking at a cost of $35 million over five years," said Leiweke. "If we have to put up all the money we will." Verbruggen added that the UCI would give the race "full support" and that the tour would be "great advertising for the state of California," while Governor Schwarzenegger declared the race a "wonderful creation" in a letter read out by Reardon. Asked as to the significance of his involvement, UCI chief Verbruggen also hinted to some journalists at the possibilities for a separate roster of ProTour events, so that in the future the ProTour might operate on three fronts - Europe, the Americas and Asia. Route details are likely to be announced this summer, although sources close to AEG suggest that there will be at least one time trial and possibly two mountain stages, with the race ending in downtown Los Angeles. Race managing director Robert Colarossi told procycling that the race would be athlete-focused and "athlete-centric." "We need to be authentic to the sport of cycling," Colarossi said. "If we do that, we will create an event that will be easy to market, easy to sell, and everything else will just fall into place."