California Dreaming: The Warm Up for the Tour de France
Now in its 12th year the Amgen Tour of California (we have to give it its full name every time because, sponsorship) has finally grown up. The 2017 race has been given UCI World Tour status and has been added to the 2017 UCI World Tour Schedule. Playing with the big boys (and girls) at last!
Launched in 2006the Amgen Tour of California has fast become America’s most prestigious cycling event. Held in February for the first 4 years, it moved to May in 2010 bringing it into direct conflict with the Giro d'Italia. The UCI argued that the change of date would allow riders to avoid California’s rainy season (yes it DOES rain in California) but in reality they see it as a useful training ground for Tour de France hopefuls.Which makes the Amgen Tour of California a unique opportunity for the prospective elite Tour de France riders to size each other up while basking in the glorious California Spring sunshine.
But it’s the California scenery that will be the star of the show. The 2017 race route takes in many of the state’s spectacular highways, byways, mountains and coastlines:-
Stage 1 – Sprinters delight
The riders head out of Sacramento into the California Delta – 104 miles of flat and viciously fast road that will suit the sprinters down to the ground.
Stage 2 – It’s all in the legs
Leaving the flat lands the riders head up the first of six King of the Mountain (KOM) climbs. This stage is known for sapping the stamina of much of the peloton. In all they’ll climb about 9,000 feet as well as tackling two sprintsand an ascent to the finish.
Stage 3 – A little of everything
115 miles of beaches, sand dunes, vineyards, a little climbing, plenty of spectators and lush countryside. All rushing by in a blur as the riders tackle two KOMs, two sprints, and a surprise 0.5km climb to the finish.
Stage 4 – More KOMs and white knuckles
The riders will get a brief few moments to savour the ocean breezes before they launch into 100 miles of four KOMs, a rapid descent into Grimes Canyon before winding through orange groves and heading out onto Hwy 126 toward Santa Clarita.
Stage 5 – The “Queens Stage”
Heading out of Ontario on a 125-mile route that takes in two sprints, three KOMs and a massive 12,000-foot elevation gain before finishing at the top of Mt. Baldy. Previous tours have seen the winner decided at this stage.
Stage 6 – Time Trials
Taking in Big Bear Lake this stage covers the Individual Time Trial stage, where racers will take off one at a time, riding a flat and fast course against the clock for the best time of the day.
Stage 7 – Time for the Sprinters to Shine
This 77 mile downhill stage includes two sprints and the last threeKOMs. The final push into Pasadena features a long straight course that will allow the teams to launch their sprinters for a spectacular, crowd-pleasing finish.