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Additional stages possible for future Amgen Tour of California editions

by Daniel Benson

Race positions itself as key preparation for Tour de France

While the exact route details of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California won't be revealed until late December or early January, yesterday's unveiling of the 15 host cities and key highlights of the eight-day stage race reveals an event more primed than ever for its position as a must-do race for those with aspirations for the Tour de France later in the season.

A couple of key firsts were announced, including the first true mountain top finish at Mount Baldy for the penultimate stage as well as the tour's first trip outside California's borders, with a section in Nevada for the opening stage around Lake Tahoe. More than 50 cities applied to host either a stage start or finish, so is it inevitable that the Amgen Tour of California will add more stages to accommodate the demand and better position itself as an alternative to the concurrent Giro d'Italia?

"We are always looking at whether it makes sense for us to be an eight day race or whether for us to extend a little bit," said AEG president Andrew Messick. "I don't think we aspire to be a three-week race. I can envision us being a nine, 10, potentially even an 11-day race in the future. We want to be positioning ourselves as a race that is important and helpful for people that want to do well at the Tour de France.

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