Tour of California — Cycling's next big race?

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Organizers of the Tour of California bicycle race want it to become the next Tour de France, not the Tour de Trump.

The Anschutz Entertainment Group has announced plans for a eight-stage pro cycling race through California to take place in February. Although the route isn't nailed down, the backers are looking for such scenic locations as along the coast in northern and southern California, and in wine country and the Sierra Nevada.

Anschutz has promised $35 million to get the event off the ground over the next few years, and it already has support from the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and USA Cycling (the announcement was made Friday during the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Carson, Calif.).

Whether it can draw big names, like Lance Armstrong, is uncertain. Armstrong's Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team already trains in the Solvang area of California in late January, and the team is returning to the US to race in the six-stage Tour de Georgia April 19-24, another UCI-sanctioned event.

US racing enthusiasts had high hopes for the Tour de Trump (sponsored by Donald Trump) in 1989 and 1990, and after that the Tour DuPont from 1991-1996. International caliber cyclists, including locally grown Greg Lemond, Bobby Julich, and Armstrong, participated in that stage race across the mid-Atlantic states, but interest waned.

For more information on the upcoming race, see Tour of California press release or a report in the Daily Peloton.

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