Amgen Tour of California’s first two stages will feature bridges and rivers

Bee Sports staff

The first two stages of the 2015 Amgen Tour of California will feature rivers and bridges – and plenty of sprinting.

A field of 144 cyclists is expected to compete in the eight stages that cover 724.1 miles, including the 127-mile opening stage on May 10 that begins and ends in Sacramento and the 120-mile second stage from Nevada City to Lodi. Details of the race were announced Thursday.

The flat first stage will take riders across the Sacramento River via the Tower Bridge, through West Sacramento to River Road, then through the Delta towns of Clarksburg, Courtland and Walnut Grove before crossing back over the river to Isleton. A few miles later, the route crosses the river again into Rio Vista before the riders head north through Solano County into Davis and Woodland before returning to West Sacramento and crossing the Tower Bridge for the second time.

The second stage should also be sprinter-friendly with just one climb. After a circuit on the historic Nevada City Classic course, riders will race into Grass Valley before heading south on Rattlesnake Road and Dog Bar Road. The route crosses the Foresthill Bridge – at 730 feet above the American River, it’s the tallest span in California – before climbing on Highway 49, followed by a downhill route to Lodi, where the stage ends with downtown circuits.

San Jose hosts the 105-mile third stage, which features a climb and descent of 4,216-foot Mount Hamilton. The race moves south along the Pacific coast for the fourth stage (107 miles from Pismo Beach to Avila Beach) with the 98-mile fifth stage taking riders from Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita.

The sixth stage in Big Bear Lake is a 15-mile time trial at 6,752 feet, and the 80-mile seventh stage is from Ontario to Mt. Baldy with riders climbing 1,900 feet in the final 4.3 miles.

The race ends May 17 with the 60-mile final stage through downtown Los Angeles to the Rose Bowl.

Organizers also announced details of the route for four days of women’s competition, 158 miles of stage racing May 8-10 and a time trial May 15.

The 74-mile first stage and 50-mile second stage will begin and end at Heavenly Valley, the first day around Lake Tahoe and the second day through forests. The 34-mile third stage is a circuit race in downtown Sacramento, starting and finishing at the Capitol. The final stage is a time trial at Big Bear Lake.