It is all started now. The 2009 edition of the Tour of California is underway and what a cracker of a race it is looking to be. Fabian Cancellara comes out of the starting gates to show us an impressive performance with a 4 minutes 32 seconds over a 4.5 km course. He has a two second lead over last years victor, Levi Leipheimer.
But the biggest shock is how many top names we have in this race - it reads like the top ranks of a Tour de France. Most of the teams have brought out their biggest players to take part in this race, and while it is making a name for itself, it is also getting many questions asked as to why the biggest names in the sport of cycling are taking part in this very early, very tough race in February.
In the past years riders who are hoping to be competitive in July are starting races like Paris-Nice (typically the climbers) or the Tirreno-Adriatico (typically sprinters). These races are the early season stage races that get the legs going for several days, often times many cyclists deem earlier than that to be training for the early season classics.
But is this years dence field at the Tour of California showing that cyclists are looking for a longer season, or do we just assume that it is tough training for these guys? That competitive cycling is better than group rides for training. A good General Classification result here would be grand, but surely not what they are all aiming for?
Armstrong maybe happy with supporting Leipheimer and getting the anti-cancer message out into the open. He has a way of attracting a huge group where-ever he goes, which maybe a reason why some teams are fielding big names as well. Team Saxo Bank has put in a team of Tour of France winners, Saste, the Schleck's, Voight and the prologue winner, Cancellara. Not to meantion Basso, Hamilton, Landis, Hincapie, Cavendish - the list is amazing.
Whatever the reason for these huge names, one thing is for certain. It is going to be epic. And with the weather they are forcasting it sounds like it shall be brutal. Should make for some super-fit guys, and a fantastic season.