The 2019 Amgen Tour of California, the country’s most prominent professional cycling event, will launch its seven-day route from Sacramento for the fourth time in five years on May 12.
It will be the city’s 11th time as a host venue in the race’s 14-year tenure.
Rancho Cordova, Stockton and South Lake Tahoe will also be part of the event’s Northern California’s three-day involvement, race officials announced Wednesday.
The race announcement occurred about six weeks later than it has in past years.
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“We delayed the host city announcement because at the originally scheduled date, the two California fires were still burning out of control,” said Kristin Klein, the president of Amgen Tour of California and executive vice president of AEG Sports, the race owner. “Many Californians had their hands and hearts full dealing with the urgent situations at hand at that time.”
The final four-day segment in the North-to-South trek will begin May 15 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas before advancing for three more days to its May 18 conclusion in Pasadena.
The three-day women’s race, a staple for the Sacramento and Lake Tahoe regions for several years, will be held entirely in Southern California next year. It will begin May 16 in Ventura, where the men’s Stage 5 finishes, and will then shadow the same cities as the men’s race for its two days.
Last year, the women’s race began in Elk Grove, transferred to South Lake Tahoe and finished with a circuit race in downtown Sacramento.
“We expressed our interest again, but we absolutely understand the race wants to showcase the entire state; it’s a big state,” said Mike Frye of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. “We understand we can’t have what we want to have every year.”
The climb to Mt. Baldy in the San Gabriel Mountains in San Bernardino County in Stage 6 of the men’s race and Stage 2 of the women’s race will likely solidify the overall winners. An individual time trial will not be included for the first time in the race’s tenure.
“I’m excited for the route to start at home in Sacramento,” said Evan Huffman (Rally), who lives in East Sacramento and was a double stage winner in 2017. “Overall, it seems like it will be a challenging race with a least one summit finish. I hope to be there again next year.”
Huffman, a skilled climber and time trialist, noted the absence of an individual time trial on the 2019 itinerary.
“Is there no time trial?” Huffman asked. “That would definitely make it a different race. I would miss having it.”
Stage distances, participating teams and key riders weren’t announced. Details are usually released sporadically beginning about two months before the race.
“The host cities chosen and the schedule allowed road racing for all seven stages, so we decided to try this configuration for 2019 as something new for the fans and teams,” Klein said.
Although the distance will vary, the opening stage of the estimated 750-mile race will likely take the field into the same San Joaquin Delta region trek used in recent years. A mid-morning start will bring the field back into downtown Sacramento for a mid-afternoon sprinting specialists’ finish. The event finished with a 91-mile road stage beginning and ending in Sacramento this year.
Huffman and Neilson Powless (LottoNL-Jumbo) of Roseville were predicted as overall title contenders this year. But neither riders’ week progressed as planned.
Huffman, who placed 67th overall in the field of 112, was part of sustained breakaways in two stages. But mechanical problems curtailed his efforts in the Stage 3 finish at Laguna Seca. He also faltered in Stage 6, when the eventual race winner pedaled to nearly a 1 1/2-minute win. Powless, who finished ninth overall in 2016 at age 19, will be riding next year in his second season on the WorldTour, cycling’s highest level. He finished 15th overall this year.
Egan Bernal of Colombia dominated the two mountain stages of the 645-mile event last year and pedaled to a 1-minute, 25-second final margin.
Tejay van Garderen (BMC), the 2013 race winner and a Washington native who primarily lives in Nice, France, was second. Daniel Martinez (EF Education First-Drapac) of Colombia was third overall, 2:14 behind.
Katie Hall (UnitedHealthcare) of Saratoga avenged her one-second runner-up finish in 2016 and won the three-day 187.7-mile women’s race by 29 seconds over Tayler Wiles (Trek-Drops) of Utah. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) of Poland was third overall, 1:07 behind.
Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrophe) of Slovakia, a three-time world titlist and the sport’s top-ranked cyclist, has competed in the Tour of California for the last nine years. He’s won a record 16 stages and claimed the overall title by three seconds in 2015. But he didn’t win a stage in the event this year, a first in his career.
2019 Amgen Tour of California
Sunday, May, 12: Stage 1, Sacramento
Monday, May 13: Stage 2, Rancho Cordova to South Lake Tahoe
Tuesday, May 14: Stage 3, Stockton to Morgan Hill
Wednesday, May 15: Stage 4, Salinas to Morro Bay
Thursday, May 16: Stage 5, Pismo Beach to Ventura
Friday, May 17: Stage 6, Ontario to Mt. Baldy
Saturday, May 18: Stage 7, Santa Clarita to Pasadena
Thursday, May 16: Stage 1, Ventura
Friday, May 17: Stage, 2 Ontario to Mt. Baldy
Saturday May 18: Stage 3 Santa Clarita to Pasadena