Plans for a Tour of California race in February 2006 are taking shape, with Lance Armstrong in the sPIC BY TDWSPORT.COM Lance Armstrong has been targeted at the head of the invitational wish-list for the inaugural Tour of California, which will be staged over eight or nine days, covering approximately 700 miles on the west coast of the United States, in February 2006. Promoted by entertainment consortium AEG, the route details are still sketchy, but the race is expected to start in either San Francisco or Sacramento, then travel down the spectacular Pacific coast towards a finish in Los Angeles, with possible detours inland for more mountainous roads. "There has been a long-standing appetite for a race like this in California for several reasons including the lifestyle, the scenery," Bob Colarossi, managing director of the race, told The Associated Press on Thursday. A press conference to reveal more details of what is being called a "multi-million dollar initiative," is due to take place in Los Angeles on Friday afternoon, with International Cycling Union president Hein Verbruggen in attendance. As yet there is little evidence to suggest that this new race will be part of the UCI's ProTour schedule, although such an event would surely fit with the objectives of Verbruggen's revamped professional calendar. "We need to make sure it fits in correctly with the international cycling schedule," Colarossi said. "Just like the Tour de France, the route will be different every year. We hope to make this America's premier cycling race." Colarossi hoped the world's top riders, including six-time Tour de France champion Armstrong, will compete. One obvious attraction will be the Californian weather, what will probably be a very professional event and the opportunity to add the Californian race to a trip to the mid-January Tour Down Under in Australia. "Those are decisions that the riders make in conjunction with their teams," he said. "The one thing I can tell you is we're going to develop this course with the riders in mind, to make sure this is a challenging race, and to make sure it's designed in such a way that it will attract all of the top riders. We're going to invite all the top teams."