Okay - it will be a bit longer before I can report on how the bike handles during a 50-mile+ ride. Due to the rain/flooding north Georgia has experienced this past week, I will not be able to visit my favorite test track (The Silver Comet Trail) until mid-October. Also, a test under loaded-touring conditions will not be forthcoming because the only tours I have planned until 2011 are fully supported.
That said, I was able to get two ten-mile rides in between the downpours on our community's bike/walking trail. The route consists of a 3.9 mile+/- figure eight loop that (given I live in the mountains) is very steep in several places with more uphill switchbacks than I care to remember. During those rides, the Cannondale handled as well as or better than any bike I have ever owned - and much better than this bike with the original Cannondale fork. I tried climbing while standing with my hands on the "hoods", climbing while seated with my hands on the "tops", going downhill "no-hands" (couldn't do that before), slow turns, fast turns, tight turns, and so on - all without a hitch.
I'm not ready to endorse this change as an option for anyone else - again, I don't know how it will handle with a loaded handlebar bag and 30 pounds strapped to a front low rider rack, but it works for me. If I have any additional information to pass on in the future, I will be sure to post it here. Take care all.