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Tour of California

No, it's not a convoy of Volkswagen Minivans puttering along Pacific Coast Highway nor a group of hot rod convertibles driving along Historic Route 66. The Tour of California is the first professional U.S. cycling race to attract the world's best riders. And it's happening this week!

While the timing of its inaugural showcase may not have been the best choice with all of the concurrent Olympics hype and spring training baseball around the corner, there is no question that big name professional cycling teams and riders have turned out in force for this 7-day event. Popular pedal pushers like George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Bobby Julich, Levi Leipheimer, David Zabriskie, Fabian Cancellara, Paolo Savoldelli, Cadel Evans, Stuart O'Grady, Gilberto Simoni, and their respective teams are climbing, sprinting, and mashing, up and down the California coast. If you can't catch the late night, tape-delayed television broadcasts on ESPN2 (10pm or 11pm), updates and other race highlights and information are available on the cool race website at The Google Maps feature is one of our favorites, hosting a detailed display of each day's stage complete with elevation diagrams, interactive maps, and other cycling graphics.

The race started with a Prologue in downtown San Francisco, heads south through San Jose, Santa Barbara, LA county, and ends up in Redondo Beach (just south of LA) this weekend. If you happen to be in the land of milk and honey during this week, you may want to head to the coast, find a los angeles healthy hotel, and check out some of your favorite riders up close and personal.

The crowds will be much thinner than those found in Europe. And besides, even with SoCal fuel costs at near $3.00/gallon, it's still a heck of a lot cheaper than round trip airfare to the homeland of Jacques Chirac.

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