With the Amgen Tour of California press conference concluded I have a few quick observations. Moving the race to May looks to be a wise decision. The rain that the race has suffered with the past two years does nothing for the image of a “sunny California.” Yes, there is the gamble of competing against the Giro, but there is a lot to say either way about a rider skipping the Giro to focus on the Tour. Often we’ve heard the excuses of a rider coming out of the Giro burned and not in great form for the Tour. In the case of Lance Armstrong, that might be the case. Remember, Lance ain’t getting any younger, so recovery before the Tour is paramount. Eight tough, but not overall brutal, stages could put the sharp edge onto his form before the Tour. Also, there won’t be any Contador versus Armstrong talk before the Tour. Can you imagine the media hype if they were to both compete in the Giro? I think it’s best for Armstrong to prepare away from Contador and remain a bit of a mystery. Let the mind games begin! I like that stage 1 is starting in Nevada City. It’s a beautiful town with a rich cycling history. And with the date change they can take the race into the mountains such as the case with stage 6, Pasadena to Big Bear. With 14,000 feet of climbing, this will be an epic day and it’s the Amgen Tour of California’s first mountain top finish, something Leipheimer has been wanting for all these years. A local hangout if you own a Harley Davidson is the Rock Store which is featured on the last stage. All the local cyclists know the area and I’ve hauled my carcass up it myself. It’s not a super steep climb, but after seven days in the saddle and two challenging back-to-back stages it will put the sting in the legs. However I think it’ll still come down to a field sprint. Now all we can do is wait and see who the Europeans teams will bring.