Going up: There's more of this sort of thing in the 2008 Tour of California
After two years of testing the waters in their Amgen Tour of California, race owner Anschutz Entertainment Group and race organizer Medalist Sports are ratcheting up the difficulties for the third edition next February. Until now the highest climb on the course was the 2155-foot San Marcos Pass into Santa Barbara in 2006, while the ruggedly steep Sierra Road, prior to the stage 3 finish in San José, tops out at 1943 feet. Sierra Road remains for 2008, but prior to tackling this redoubtable ascent, the riders will have already climbed the 4360-foot Mount Hamilton; and on the eight-day race's final stage, they'll go even higher, when the course takes them to 4906 feet elevation at Mill Creek Summit in Angeles Forest above the finish in Pasadena, 1,078km (or 670 miles) from the start in Palo Alto.
The new climbs will undoubtedly change the dynamics of a race that has already achieved acclaim from the UCI ProTour teams that should again make up half of the starting roster. Defending champion Levi Leipheimer has changed teams, but when he debuts his Astana colors next February 17-24 he should again have the strong support needed to help him achieve a second overall success.