Amgen Tour of California highlights
Followers of the Amgen Tour of California will again be able to witness the race in the Sacramento region next year. They’ll just have to wait a few days longer.
The 13th annual bicycle race was announced Thursday morning, with the 600-plus-mile men’s event and the estimated 150-mile women’s race ending May 19 in Sacramento. The men’s race began and the women’s race ended in Sacramento this year on May 14.
For the third time, the seven-day men’s trek will follow a south-to-north route beginning with a road race May 13 in Long Beach. Stage 2 will take the field from Ventura to Santa Barbara County for a mountaintop finish, followed by another road race from King City to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas.
Stage 4 will be an individual time trial in San Jose, followed by three stages in the Sacramento region. Stage 5 will progress from Stockton to Elk Grove; Stage 6 will advance from Folsom to South Lake Tahoe. The road race finale will start and end in Sacramento.
The women’s race, shortened by one day to three days, will begin Thursday, May 17, with a road stage beginning and ending in Elk Grove. A road race in the Lake Tahoe region will be followed by the concluding route the same as in previous years near the state Capitol.
Courses distances, race rosters or any individual riders weren’t announced. But Evan Huffman of Sacramento, who competes for Rally Cycling, and Neilson Powless of Roseville, employed by LottoNL-Jumbo, the team co-sponsored by the Dutch lottery and a supermarket chain, are expected to ride.
The recently married Huffman, 27, won two Tour of California stages this year en route to his career-best season. He had seven wins, including overall titles in the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico in April and the Tour of Alberta in Canada in September.
“I haven’t really done any planning for 2018 quite yet, but certainly the Tour of California will be the main focus of my spring once again,” said Huffman, who recently moved from El Dorado Hills to East Sacramento.
“Going into the race this year, I was trying to keep an open mind of what my objectives would be. But after the team’s overall title aspirations faded on Stage 2, we were all-in for stage wins via aggressive racing, which obviously was in my favor.”
Before his Tour of Alberta title, Huffman signed a two-year contract extension with Rally, the squad financed by a Washington, D.C.-based digital health company. The squad increased its status in 2018 from Continental to Pro Continental, one level below cycling’s highest level.
Powless, 21, had three wins this season. He didn’t compete in the Tour of California when his former Axeon Hagens-Berman squad, a Continental squad, wasn’t selected. He finished ninth in his debut in 2016. He’ll ride next year in his first season with the Dutch-based squad on the WorldTour, cycling’s highest level.
“LottoNL-Jumbo will compete in the 2018 Tour of California,” said Powless. “As it is a home race for me, it’s obviously a big deal and will be my main focus for the first part of the season.
“Being unable to attend this year was a huge bummer. But it’s made me more eager to improve on my past performance and put on a show for my home crowd.”
The Tour of California, which began in 2006, will include Sacramento for the 10th time. The city has hosted the overall start three of the past four years.
New Zealand rider George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) won this year’s event by 36 seconds over Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) of Poland. Retired Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac) of Napa, finished third, one second behind Majka.
Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) of the Netherlands claimed the women’s race by one second over Katie Hall (UnitedHealthcare) of Saratoga. Arlenis Sierra (Astana) of Cuba was third, trailing by 31 seconds.
Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrophe) of Slovakia, the reigning and three-time world titlist, has competed in the Tour of California for the past eight years. He’s won a record 16 stages and claimed the overall title by three seconds in 2015.