Specific route details for the 2011 Amgen Tour of California professional cycling race were announced last week via specially-produced videos highlighting each of the race’s eight stages. The annual cycling event will start its final leg in Santa Clarita on Sunday, May 22 at the Westfield Valencia Town Center, with cyclists riding to Amgen’s corporate offices in Thousand Oaks for the grand finish.
Here is the route of the Tour of California. A link to videos produced by the host cities can be found here.
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Stage 1, Presented by Michelob Ultra: South Lake Tahoe to North Lake Tahoe – Northstar at Tahoe Resort (Sunday, May 15)
Start Location: Montbleu Resort Casino in South Lake Tahoe (Intersection of Hwy. 50 and Lake Pkwy. in Stateline, Nev.)
Finish Location: North Lake Tahoe – Northstar at Tahoe Resort (Northstar Rd. at the Resort)
The 2011 Amgen Tour of California’s overall start will begin on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, one of the most beautiful locations in all of the state. The race will roll-out through the Host City of South Lake Tahoe and head in a clockwise direction up the western shore of Lake Tahoe, where the riders will encounter the first of four KOMs (“King of [the] Mountain [climbs]”) on this stage at Emerald Bay (elev. 6,850’). The race will then continue north and descend into Tahoe City while working its way through the small towns on the north shore and past the casinos in Stateline, Nevada. The race will then continue to hug the shoreline on Lakeshore Blvd., ultimately connecting with Hwy. 28 to make the return trip to South Lake Tahoe. This will be the first time the Amgen Tour of California will venture outside of the Golden State. The 27 miles of race route in Nevada will provide compelling scenery, including Spooner Pass (elev. 7,000’), the second of the day’s KOMs, from which the beautiful blue waters of Lake Tahoe can be seen. Continuing south, the race will pass through South Lake Tahoe and head back north for another half lap around the lake. At King’s Beach on the north shore of the lake, the racers will make a left turn on Hwy. 267 and start the final 7.5-mile run to the finish, but waiting for them will be the 1,000’ climb to Brockway Summit that will take them to the highest point of the stage at 7,200’. After a quick descent and a left turn onto Northstar Dr., the racers will face the final 300’ of climbing up the 1.5-mile route to the finish in North Lake Tahoe at the spectacular Northstar at Tahoe Resort.
Stage 2, Presented by the California Travel & Tourism Commission (CTTC): North Lake Tahoe – Squaw Valley USA to Sacramento (Monday, May 16)
Start Location: The Olympic Rings at North Lake Tahoe – Squaw Valley USA Ski Resort
Finish Location: Sacramento (State Capitol Building at 12th St. and L St.)
One of the longest stages of the race, Stage 2 has “sprinter” written all over the race route. Starting at the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and one of the largest ski resorts in the U.S., the riders will head north to the town of Truckee and then west past the infamous and rugged Donner Pass. At 7,100’, this will be the only KOM of Stage 2. From here it will be a more than 7’000’ of descending to the State’s Capitol (elev. 25’). The route will pass through Nevada City, California (last year’s official Start City) and after working its way west for several miles, the peloton will turn south and head through one of the country’s premier military installations, Beale Air Force Base. From there it will be a fast ride through the suburbs of Sacramento.
Entering the circuit just past the finish line in Sacramento, the riders will begin the first of two circuit laps with a finish at the State Capitol building. You can expect the crowds in Sacramento to be some of the largest for the entire race.
Stage 3: Auburn to Modesto (Tuesday, May 17)
Start Location: Auburn (High St. and Lincoln Way)
Finish Location: Modesto (I St. and 12th St.)
With no KOMs, this will be one of the last stages for the sprinters to showcase their speed at the finish. Auburn is known as the “Endurance Sports Capitol of the World,” so it is only fitting that one of fastest stages of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California begins here. At 120 miles, endurance will be a factor for Stage 3. After a neutral start section through Old Town Auburn, the race will go live and head south through downtown Folsom. The next 100 miles will showcase some of the beautiful roads of central California as the race passes through “Gold Country.” The historic town of Ione (founded in 1849) will serve as the first Sprint location of Stage 3. Continuing south, the route will then pass by the shores of Lake Camanche. The second Sprint of Stage 3 will be in the cowboy town of Oakdale, and from there it will be a fast 17 miles to the start of two circuit laps in downtown Modesto, one of the favorite repeat cities of the Amgen Tour of California. It is surrounded by rich farmland and is one of the top farming areas in the U.S. Many of the cyclists feel Modesto has the best finishing circuits of the race, so look for an all-out battle to the end during Stage 3.
Stage 4, Presented by UnitedHealthcare: Livermore to San Jose (Wednesday, May 18)
Start Location: Livermore (L St. and 1st St.)
Finish Location: San Jose (KOM on Sierra Road)
Stage 4 is short, at just 81 miles, but what it lacks in distance it more than makes up for with difficulty. Two of Stage 4’s five rated climbs are legendary in California cycling lore. While the Amgen Tour of California has gone through Livermore many times before, the city is hosting its first official stage start in 2011. Home of the renowned Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, the City of Livermore (established in 1869) played a prominent role in California’s “Gold Rush” history and today is home to a thriving wine industry. After the cyclists get their legs loosened a bit around the Laboratories, the race will head out to Mines Rd. and to the first KOM of the day. Mines Rd. is 25 miles long, hilly and winding. It will be easy for a few riders to get off the front and create significant gaps from the peloton. In 2010, the riders enjoyed a long descent into a finish in Modesto off of Mines Rd. This year, there will be no such luxury.
Mines Rd. becomes San Antonio Canyon Rd., and after shaking things up with two more KOMs, the riders will face the daunting challenge of Mt. Hamilton, the Tour’s first Hors Category climb. The two-mile climb to the Mt. Hamilton Observatory (4,130’) will offer a spectacular view of San Jose and Silicon Valley. Next will be the treacherous descent down the front side of Mt. Hamilton. Almost immediately after finishing the descent, the race will take a turn onto Sierra Rd., a 3.5-mile ascent with a 10 percent average grade and 1,700’ feet of climbing. What is usually the home of herds of cattle will be replaced by thousands of screaming fans as they welcome home the winner, who will almost certainly wear the golden leaders jersey.
Stage 5, Presented by Rabobank: Seaside to Paso Robles (Thursday, May 19)
Start Location: Seaside (City Hall – Canyon Del Rey Blvd.)
Finish Location: Paso Robles (11th and Spring St.)
The Amgen Tour of California will return to Seaside and the Monterey Peninsula once again in 2011, marking the first official race start in this storied location since the race last visited the city in 2008. The race will take the same route down Hwy. 1 through Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove and Big Sur, providing some of the most dramatic and compelling scenery of any location in the world. The route has quickly become legendary among the pro peloton with the Bixby Bridge, towering cliffs, crashing waves, lighthouses, two KOMs, and herds of sea lions that gradually give way to a gentler coast line.
After passing through a Sprint line in San Simeon (home of the Hearst Castle), the race will enter the tranquil seaside town of Cambria, where their main street is lined with quaint shops. A mile later, tranquility will be left behind as the riders start Santa Rosa Creek Rd. The road is narrow, twisting and overgrown with hanging vegetation, making the racers feel like they’ve entered the set of a Harry Potter movie. On this route, if the peloton lets a rider escape up the road, they may never see him again. It will be a constant 2-3 percent grade up Santa Rosa Creek Rd., until the riders reach the 20 percent “Wall.” A steep and technical descent will face the riders as they crest the summit of the KOM.
From here, Stage 5 will offer up some of the most beautiful roads of the 2011 route into Paso Robles as the roads roll past several of the famous vineyards and wineries of the Paso Robles wine region. This is the same long finishing straight to the Downtown City Park in Paso Robles that was used the last time the Amgen Tour of California finished here in 2009. There were thousands of screaming fans to watch the finishing sprint then, and a repeat performance is guaranteed for the conclusion of Stage 5 in 2011.
Stage 6, Presented by Herbalife: Solvang Individual Time Trial (Friday, May 20)
Start Location: Intersection of Mission Dr. and 1st St.
Finish Location: Copenhagen Dr.
After a hiatus in 2010, the Amgen Tour of California’s individual time trial returns to Solvang, the quaint Danish village that plays host annually to some of the Pro Tour teams for training camps, as well as some of the largest cycling events in the U.S. With the start and finish lines located only one block apart, Stage 6 will be an ideal location for spectators to view the race. The route will highlight the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, winding through quaint towns, vineyards, and farms, and one short but steep climb up Ballard Canyon. This year’s short, flat and fast time trial will create a challenging test for the riders and is expected to be a decisive day of the race. As in the past, the Solvang time trial will separate the true contenders for the golden jersey from the rest of the field.
Stage 7, Presented by Nissan: Claremont to Mt. Baldy (Saturday, May 21)
Start Location: Claremont (Harvard and 1st St.)
Finish Location: Mt. Baldy Ski Resort
If the Stage 6 individual time trial creates some separation between the contenders and the chasers, Stage 7 will be the ultimate test of the rider’s resolve to capture the golden jersey. Did they leave it all on the road in Solvang or did they hold back enough to survive one of the most difficult stages in the history of bicycle racing in the U.S.? It has been compared to the epic stages of the European Grand Tours. This is the training ground for many of the local racers in southern California, but only a handful has done the entire route, and none have done it after six days of racing over 800 miles! The winner of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California will almost certainly be decided on the final switchbacks to the finish on Mt. Baldy.
The race will begin in the college town of Claremont, home to the Claremont Colleges, which are regarded as one of the best college consortiums in the world. Two neutral circuits in Claremont will get the riders ready for the first climb of the day. Just 3.5 miles from the start, the riders will face an eight-mile climb to the Village of Baldy and their first KOM. A left turn at the village will provide them another mile of climbing up Glendora Ridge Rd. From here they will have 12 miles of narrow, twisting roads that gradually lead to a fast and technical descent down the backside of Glendora Mountain Rd., all the while featuring spectacular vistas as the riders make their way through the Angeles National Forest. Another descent down East Fork will take the riders to Hwy. 39 and the town of Azusa. Heading east, the race will then dip into the City of Glendora for the only Sprint of the day. At this point, the number of flat miles for Stage 7 will have dwindled to less than two with still nearly 30 miles to the finish.
A left turn onto Glendora Mountain Rd. and it will be ‘game on.’ The next KOM will be a nine-mile climb followed by 12 miles of a slight climb back to Baldy Village. A left turn back onto Baldy Rd. will see the race gain 1,000’ in just three miles, and the real climbing hasn’t even started! At Ice House Canyon, the route will make a hard left turn where the sign to the ski area points towards the sky. Over the next 2.5 miles, the riders will face 10 switchbacks on a road that is so steep many of the race vehicles will not be able to make it to the top. At 1.2 miles to go, the road will straighten out and the finish line will be seen ahead. At .25 miles to go, the route will make a hard left and the racers will face a final five switchbacks to the finish line. This will be the stage where legends are made and winners are decided.
Stage 8, Presented by Amgen: Santa Clarita to Thousand Oaks (Sunday, May 22)
Start Location: Santa Clarita – Towne Center Shopping Center (McBean Pkwy. and Magic Mtn.)
Finish Location: Thousand Oaks – City Hall (Thousand Oaks Blvd. and Conejo School Rd.)
The Amgen Tour of California returns to one of its favorite Host Cities for the start of the final stage of the 2011 race. One of California’s up and coming cities, Santa Clarita boasts miles of bike paths and is home to many large events throughout the year. Leaving Santa Clarita, the race will head out on a flat 13-mile stretch of Hwy 126. A left turn near Piru will work the riders towards the coast and to the base of the final KOM of the race, Balcolm Canyon. This is a wicked climb that is relatively short but painfully steep. The riders can expect a solid mass of fans that will part as the riders approach. Cresting the summit, the race will then head through Moorpark and up the final climb on the Norwegian Grade. Next, the route will head downhill and enter the four-mile circuit as it passes the finish line in Thousand Oaks and begins the first of five flat and fast circuits.
The winner of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California will be crowned on the award stage in Thousand Oaks, the headquarter community of the race’s title sponsor, Amgen. The winner will have survived the longest and most difficult stage race ever contested in the U.S. His team will have sacrificed every day to propel this rider closer to the golden jersey. It is going to be a truly amazing Amgen Tour of California this May 15-22.
For more information about the Amgen Tour of California and to view the stage videos, please visit www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.