It’s that time of the year again when both the men's and women's pro pelotons descend on California and once again we are lucky enough to have the Tour of California visiting our local roads.
Both the men’s and the women’s races feature stages in the Sacramento area as well as a stage start for the men, here in Folsom. The penultimate stage of the race, stage 6, starts from the Folsom Rodeo Grounds on Friday, May 18th and heads up through Placerville, Sly Park, and Carson Pass to an eventual finish in South Lake Tahoe.
The following day’s stage is the traditional Sacramento stage with a criterium style finish around the State Capitol.
This is the only time of the year when the world’s best riders come to California so local cyclists are definitely going to want to make the most of an action-packed couple of days. Here’s our guide to the race and who to look out for.
This year’s edition of the Amgen Tour of California kicks off in So-Cal with a criterium-style first stage on the streets of Long Beach.
This year’s race is packed with the world’s top sprinters who will be looking to build form and perfect their lead-out trains ahead of the Tour de France in July. Caleb Ewan, Alexander Kristoff, Fernando Gaviria, Marcel Kittel, Mark Cavendish, and World Champion Peter Sagan will all be looking to snap up stage wins.
Stage 1 will boil down to a straight-up sprint between these top-men of sprinting. Stage 2 is a whole other kettle of fish with a mountain-top finish atop the famous Gibraltar Road in Santa Barbara.
This, combined with the mountainous run in on stage 6, will likely decide the outcome of the entire tour. Look for the likes of Team Sky’s neo-pro Colombian rider, Egan Bernal, and Roseville local, Neilson Powless to feature on this climb.
Stage 3 features the strongest possibility for a breakaway to succeed with a very short 0.7-mile, 10% pitch just three miles from the end of the race. The most probable outcome, however, is a fractured sprint between the likes of Peter Sagan, Fernando Gaviria, and Alexander Kristoff.
Stage 4 is the only time trial of the race and its 21-mile course will be an important battleground for GC hopefuls. This will be where the, 2013 AToC winner, Tejay van Garderen will hope to make up time on his more explosive climbing rivals.
Stage 5, from Stockton to Elk Grove will certainly end in a bunch sprint. Much of the course for this flat stage will be familiar to anyone who has taken part in the Pardee Party Gran Fondo as the route snakes past the Pardee Reservoir towards Ione and a fast finish in downtown Elk Grove. This stage has Marcel Kittel written all over it.
The queen stage of the 2018 race starts right here in our backyard at the Folsom Rodeo Ground. The riders will roll out along the new section of the Johnny Cash Trail before joining Green Valley Road and speeding off to Placerville.
From here it’s one categorized climb after another as the riders climb up the Mormon Emigrant Trail towards Kirkwood and Carson Pass. A 20-mile descent follows, with the riders crossing into Nevada briefly before returning for a stout, 1-mile uphill finish to the Heavenly Mountain Resort.
Depending on how the GC looks coming into this stage, this could very well be one for a small but elite breakaway to succeed on. If a small but strong number of riders who are not a threat to the GC contenders gain large chunks of time on the massive climb to Carson Pass in the middle of the stage, look for the break to go the whole way.
Our pick; Lawson Craddock to make the breakaway and stick it out all the way to the end.
Stage 7 sees the traditional Sacramento circuit finish around the State Capitol.
Look for a sprint finale. Mark Cavendish has won this sprint finish in Sacramento an impressive four times and he will likely be the man to beat again. He’ll face strong competition though as the pan-flat nature of this stage means that many riders will take it easy before the four-lap finale.
Got the taste for some riding yourself? Join us on Friday, May 18th, after the pros roll out for the start of stage 6 for a celebration ride. For more info and to signup for the ride click HERE.