– By Tom McManners of Discover Adventures
Tour champion Floyd Landis (Phonak) simply stated, “The race and the organization will be judged by how it goes. As far as I can tell it went perfect.” Team CSC rounded out the podium with Americans Dave Zabriskie and Bobby Julich. Bobby, who had considered retirement a few years back is grateful he didn’t, and shared this insight, “Wow! This is what a race in America should be like.” His teammate Zabriskie added, “It really couldn’t have gone better.”
Bobby J and The Floyd share some podium time.
The press conference yielded some insight into next year’s field, in particular about an increased international presence and caliber of cyclist. Referenced was the comfort the athletes enjoyed each evening, with rooms “that had eight pillows” versus the dingy, small rooms often associated with some international events. “That alone will peak the interest of higher caliber cyclists from Europe.” offered Frankie Andreu (Director Sportif – Toyota-United).
Tour De France mainstay for many years, Frankie Andreu, had no criticism for the first edition of the Tour of California.
Bobby Julich was a big fan of the race, not to mention 3rd overall.
Next Stop: Le Tour
Race officials were clearly pleased with the event, but it was obvious from their tone that this was only the beginning. Tim Leiweke, CEO of AEG, was asked about the future of the event, and he boldly projected that they have a “commitment to building the second best race in the world. One day we will rival the Tour de France. We will not rest until we have the best race in America. This is a first step.” Sean Hunter, AEG Sports President concurred, “The best is yet to come.” Not content to sit on their laurels, Hunter informed us that “we’re meeting at 7am tomorrow to plan 2007.”
Olaf Pollack let loose on some poor ESPN cameraman.
Poppin The Bubbly
Celebration was essential after the race. Massive champagne bottles were shook and uncorked and sprayed everywhere. Stage 7 winner Olaf Pollack (T-Mobile) pointedly doused the ESPN2 videographer with the entire bottle. Moments later, with a warming gesture of appreciation, he ran over to the cameraman and slipped an official T-Mobile jersey over his shoulders.
Floyd enjoyed his time with the bubbly.
It should also be noted that an event like this couldn’t have been pulled off so well without seasoned race veterans like Jim Birrell and Chris Aronhalt from Medalist Sports. The managing partners are responsible for the two largest cycling events in the country, and have surrounded themselves with an incredible staff that managed this huge event to perfection.
The 2006 Tour Of California podium.
So the inaugural Amgen Tour of California is history. It made history in numerous ways. It was an incredible event that has aggressively paved the way for American cycling in the post-Lance era, with grand aspirations that we all should be excited to see unfold in the future!
CSC took the Team Classification – and the 8000 dollar check that goes with it.
PezCycling’s Tour of California reports are filed in partnership with Discover Adventures Cycling Tours: Check their website to enter to win a trip to the Tour de Georgia.