Category: Tour of California

Gran Fondo bike rides gain popularity in US

–Updated with more gran fondo events–


Amateur cyclists and recreational bicyclists in the US and Canada will get more opportunities to participate in Italian-style gran fondo bike rides in 2010.

Nearly a dozen gran fondo bike rides are scheduled next year in California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ontario.

Cyclists appear to be hungry for such events.

When 3-time Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer launched a gran fondo-style bike ride in Santa Rosa last October, 3,500 cyclists signed up.

Word must have spread among cyclists, because when online registration opened on Tuesday for the October 2010 King Ridge Gran Fondo — 10 months before the event — half the 6,000 spots were reserved the first day.

In addition to Leipheimer's event in Santa Rosa, the Tour of California is sponsoring two gran fondos along the course of two Tour stages before the race in April. Centurion Cycling  is launching its first season of gran fondo with rides in California, Colorado and Wisconsin, and Gran Fondo USA is offering rides in San Diego and Philadelphia next year …

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2010 Tour of California host cities; top US cyclists confirmed

Sixteen cities will host the 2010 Tour of California when the fifth edition of the bike race rolls out May 16 to 23.

This is a couple of months later than the previous four Tours of California that were scheduled in February. The new schedule will surely mean drier, warmer weather for the cyclists and spectators, as well as a bone fide mountain stage that ends at Big Bear Lake.

It also means that four of America's top cyclists — defending champion Levi Leipheimer and Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie and David Zabriskie — are choosing the California race over the Giro d'Italia, the three-week Grand Tour that also runs in May.

Here's the schedule: …

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Santa Rosa to host Tour of California stage again in 2010

Santa Rosa seems to be one of the few cities in California to know, for sure, that it's going to be a host city on the 2010 Tour of California bike race.

The city's Chamber of Commerce chief confirmed to the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat that the bike race would return to Santa Rosa for the fifth time in a row.

Meanwhile, organizers are still putting together the list of other host cities for the 8-stage tour. The race better be a doozy, because it's going up against the Giro d'Italia. The Tour announced earlier …

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2010 Tour of California will be raced in May

Mark your calendars: The 2010 edition of the Amgen Tour of California is scheduled for May 16-23.

This change could be a good or a bad thing. The race previously has been scheduled for a week in February for its first four years.

Good: May is a much more weather-friendly month in California than February. In fact, a couple of stages in the past two years have been downright miserable.

Bad: The dates put it smack dab in the middle of next year's Giro d'Italia, which has been the cycling world's focus in May for decades …

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Three-peat for Levi Leipheimer at Tour of California;
Frank Schleck wins Stage 8

Levi Leipheimer showed 2 million cycling fans on the road this week that he had the speed and strength to survive wind, rain and snow to win his third Amgen Tour of California championship.

Finishing 1 second behind the winner in Sacramento's prologue last Saturday, Leipheimer took control of the yellow jersey on Monday and held onto it with the help of his Astana teammates all the way to Escondido on Sunday.

Another US cyclist, David Zabriskie on Garmin-Slipstream, finished in 2nd place and Michael Rogers of Team Columbia finished in 3rd. Lance Armstrong, who rode in support of teammate Leipheimer, finished in the top 10.

Leipheimer could have found his championship hopes threatened at Sunday's Stage 8. …

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Nocentini wins Stage 7; Leipheimer still wearing yellow

Levi Leipheimer came one day closer on Saturday to winning his third straight Amgen Tour of California bicycle race title by finishing comfortably in the peloton in Pasadena.

A member of a 10-man breakaway, Rinaldo Nocentini of Team AG2R, won the stage. He and two other riders made a break on the laps around Pasadena and held off the chase to win the 89-mile stage from Santa Clarita.

On a sad note, one of the cyclists who had really made his mark during this year's Tour of California left the race after crashing..

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Leapin' Levi! Leipheimer wins 3rd Solvang time trial in a row

Time trial ace Levi Leipheimer proved that he's in top form at the 2009 Amgen Tour of California by winning the Stage 6 individual time trial and probably solidifying his championship at Sunday's finish in Escondido.

He beat his closest adversary — National Time Trial Champion David Zabriskie — by 9 seconds over the 15-mile course. Zabriskie effort put him into second place overall, 36 seconds behind Leipheimer.

Three-time world time trial champion Michael Rogers, who had been in 2nd place at the beginning of the day, dropped to 3rd with his day's showing of 23 seconds behind Leipheimer…

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“Lance — Ride this one like YOU stole it”; ITT start times

The Trek ProjectOne Team added this message to  Lance Armstrong's back-up time trial bicycle: “Lance — Ride this one like YOU stole it.”

Armstrong posted this TwitPic on Friday morning, the day of the 15-mile Solvang individual time trial that's Stage 6 of the Amgen Tour of California and perhaps the deciding stage for Levi Leipheimer.

Armstrong said Thursday that he'd ride his original time trial bike, the one that was stolen in Sacramento overnight on Saturday and recovered on Wednesday. He said it seems to be in “fine shape.”

Armstrong's Astana teammate Leipheimer …

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Cavendish wins Stage 5; Can Leipheimer retain yellow jersey to the finish?


Leipheimer, Rogers (24 secs) and Zabriskie (28 secs)

Sprint phenom Mark Cavendish racked up another win for the Columbia-High Road pro cycling team at the end of a 135-mile stage from Visalia to Paso Robles on Thursday.

I couldn't watch it on TourTracker, but the post-race reports make it sound a little bit like the previous three stages: Team Astana lets a small breakaway stay out front most of the day. Sprinters' teams reel them in near the finish. Sprinter takes the win.

Team Astana's Levi Leipheimer (above left) remained in firm control of the yellow jersey for a third day. Friday's Stage 6 individual time trial around Solvang, however, will probably tell the tale of whether Leipheimer gets to win his third consecutive Tour of California …

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Citizen turns in Lance Armstrong's stolen bicycle to police

A Sacramento resident walked into the Sacramento police headquarters this morning with Lance Armstrong's stolen time trial bicycle, solving a case that police had been working on since Sunday.

Although a police spokesman said he would not go into the details about how the person acquired the bicycle, “he is not a suspect at this time.”

The bicycle “appears to be in good condition with the wheels and the frame, however the mechanics for the team will have to review it … to see if there are any flaws or damage to it.” …

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