Peninsula cyclists will be excited that Palo Alto and Stanford is hosting the Prologue for the 2008 Tour of California. Palo Alto was approached to bid this year and was able to wrest the start of the up-and-coming event from San Francisco.
Palo Alto Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto rode in on her well-ridden red bicycle to play emcee for this event that featured several speakers, including President of USA Cycling, Jim Orchowicz, and San Jose City Council Member Sam Liccardo. Local bike clubs were also well-represented with an array of local club representatives lined up behind the stage and Ted Huang of Webcor giving a brief speech. Speakers emphasized Palo Alto's bicycling community -- it was the first to pioneer the idea of a bike boulevard -- as well as its cycling terrain as factors in this year's selection.
The prologue announcement was sparse on the most important detail -- the actual route -- but it was described as a short route that would cross from the Palo Alto City Hall onto the Stanford campus along Palm Drive. The overall route this year is very similar to last year, except for the move of the Prologue to Palo Alto and the finishing stage now from Santa Clarita to Pasadena. The San Jose stage start was also changed to Modesto.
Cyclists present naturally wished that the route this year could have included some of the classic climbs in the area like King's or Highway 9, but logistical issues like road closures and TV coverage (most climbs in this area have tree overhangs) ruled those out for this year.