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It was announced today by Jean Marie LeBlanc that the first stage of the 1999 Tour de France will begin in Stewarts Point California, head south to the dreaded HC Coleman Valley climb and on to Santa Rosa. From there it will proceed over Trinity/Oakville Grade to the world famous wine country of the Napa Valley. The route continues on Sage Canyon Road, a frequently used tour stop, through Davis to it's conclusion in Historic Old Town Sacramento.
After previewing the stage, Marco Pantani said, "It's a very good for a me with all the climbing. I'll probably be in the polka-dot jersey after this stage".
Tour organizers toyed with the idea of having the entire Tour de France in the United States this year, after last years bad publicity over the doping scandals. But decided to hold only the first three stages here, giving France a chance to realize they really missed the tour and wanted it back.
The second stage runs from Sacramento to Salt Lake City in one of the longest tour stages in history. For this stage each team will have only one bike and each team member will rotate on it over the estimated 620 mile stage expected to take about 17 hours.
The third stage from Salt lake City to Denver (470 miles) wraps-up the Tours stay in the States. The riders will immediately fly to Alpe d'huez for the fourth stage, a likely anti-climatic stage.
Farmer Ed Flugel is renting his driveway, located on Oakville Grade, to the highest bidder to view the passing cyclists. He has a website at http://www.what-a-ripoff.com for more information and photos of what it will look like as they wiz by at 60+ MPH.
BikeCal.com will cover all the activities for these three stages, so be sure to check back here on July 4-6 for full photos, results and analysis.