This year sees the Tour of California moved from its previous February slot to May. Weather conditions were harsh, it meant the race struggled to include mountain stages. But this change is forcing riders to choose between the Giro d’Italia and California. Mark Cavendish is the latest rider to announce where he’ll be in May, in his case it’s California.
Riders and teams should not have to make this choice. The Giro is one the greatest events on the sporting calendar, second only to the mighty Tour de France. The Tour of California has the hallmarks of an enduring and prestigious race, like a varied course and scenic roads. Above all it is commercially very important to some sponsors, the TV coverage in America’s largest state is extremely valuable.
Now let’s remember the Giro might not be for every team, just as many teams excited about the Giro won’t want to make the trip halfway around the world to California. But why are these two events clashing? Surely two such important races shouldn’t have to compete for riders?
Would it not be better to move the Californian race into June? This month is actually a quiet one for racing. Once the Giro ends, there’s the Dauphiné Libéré and Tour de Suisse but perhaps California could find a slot here? Or even better, run it in August as you’d get riders still strong from July and others building for the Vuelta and the Worlds.
- Note one silly result is that the Giro is already considering a start in Washington DC in an attempt to say “you wanna race in America, then do the Giro“. Now I’m all in favour of the sport spreading around the world but you don’t do this by flying a race in for a couple of days. In the short term it treats the riders like cattle and more importantly it’s not a long term solution. It would be far better to nurture the Tour of California. My message to the UCI would be to stop the clash and to prevent the Giro’s transatlantic stunt.