The Tour of California will move from its traditional mid-February date to its requested slot in May for 2010. It will also be given ProTour status in 2011.
The news was confirmed by Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports, organisers of the Tour of California, to Cyclingnews.
The race will take place on May 16 to 23, within the same time slot as the Giro d’Italia. “We will be head-to-head with the Giro but frankly I don’t think that will really affect us,” Messick said. “The Giro is a great race, but very few cyclists who are serious about the Tour de France will also race the Giro.”
Tour of California organisers met with McQuaid and the International Cycling Union’s road commission at its headquarters in Switzerland early last week to discuss the possible date change.
“We sorted it all out with Pat McQuaid,” Messick said. “We talked about possibilities in April, May, June and even November but we always wanted to be in May.”
The May slot, according to Messick, will turn the Tour of California into a preparation race for the Tour de France.
“I think being a lead-up to the Tour is the strongest place for us to be and we will have many of the Tour de France riders participating. The teams can do the Classics, the Tour de Romandie, take a break and still have enough time to get over to California for our race. They can even go back to Europe and do the Dauphiné [Libéré].
“We will start to plan the new courses now. We are fairly decided on a particular mountain top finish. We definitely have one.”
Messick said the May date will allow access to more terrain in the high Sierra Mountains that are normally covered with snow.
The date change may have saved the race; Messick said if they did not receive the date change the event may not have happened in 2010.
“We would have had to make some difficult decisions. There was just no appetite to stay a February race.”