- stage 2: On roads I know so well... a climb of Tunitas Creek Road, passing the Bike Hut, past Bear Gulch on Skyline then the fast descent to and of west 84, out to San Gregorio, then the tailwind-aided run to Davenport (watch the tracks). Then it's a personal favorite, up Bonny Doon & Pine Flat, then deviating from my usual route, down Empire Grade into Santa Cruz for the finish. Cool stuff, and a real chance for time gaps, without a lot of distance from the bottom of the climb to the finish line.
- stage 3: Of course, they couldn't start a stage climbing Sierra Road.... they were going over Mt. Hamilton Road this year, surely. Wrong. The stage opens with the really tough climb of Sierra Road after all, then down the technical Felter descent, then right on super-scenic Calaveras, out to Patterson Pass, then a long neutralizing run into Modesto. Sierra will become a promenade this year, but is always a good show.
- stage 4: The Sierra... these are roads I don't know as well, but roads I got to explore during the 2006 SuperTour. Really gorgeous, and a welcome addition to the tour!
- stage 8: Over Palomar! I'd expected a hill-top finish of Palomar, but instead the stage will feature a wild run from the summit to the finish line. Unfortunately the final run is too long for this to be the clearly decisive stage, so the final result will likely be declared by the stage 6 time trial in Visalia.
It's going to be an amazing race. Let's hope for more good weather than 2008...
The big disappointment is the failure to include a women's stage race. Come on, guys! Okay, maybe there's logistical issues with housing, and I understand road closures are obscenely expensive, but I think most "mortal" cyclists have an easier time relating to the women than the men. A legitimate women's race would really add to the package.