Fans enjoy race, festivities of final leg of Tour of California
Mimicking last year’s route but with a chronological reversal, the 2017 Amgen Tour of California will begin May 14 in Sacramento with a late-morning start and a full day of men’s and women’s racing.
Stage 1 of the men’s race, a flat out-and-back route from downtown Sacramento into the Delta, will initiate the 12th annual seven-day event with an 11:40 a.m. start. The north-to-south route, one day shorter than last year, will encompass 575.9 miles, according to the race organization’s announcement Tuesday. The race will end May 20 in Pasadena.
The 104-mile opening stage is similar to the course used to conclude the 2016 men’s race, albeit longer and with a slightly altered route because of road construction. The men’s stage, which will include two sprints and three finishing circuits around the Capitol, will take riders south on State Route 84 past Riverview and Five Points before the turnaround south of Walker Landing.
The field will return on Highway 160 into West Sacramento and advance to downtown Sacramento over the Tower Bridge to the Capitol. The finish time is estimated to be 3:45 p.m.
One hour after the men’s start, the four-day, 256.6-mile women’s race will conclude with a 43.5-mile, 20-lap circuit race on a 2.2-mile loop around the Capitol and surrounding government buildings. The women’s race, which will begin May 11 in South Lake Tahoe, is expected to finish at 2:25 p.m.
Following two women’s stages in South Lake Tahoe, Stage 3 will start at 10:35 a.m. in Elk Grove and advance to an estimated 2 p.m. finish at the Capitol.
“I am sure (the men’s race) will be very challenging like last year,” said Evan Huffman, a Team Rally rider from El Dorado Hills, who finished second in Stage 2 and claimed the best climbers division last year. “I’m glad there will be a stage in Sacramento again.”
For the first time, the men’s and women’s race events will be part of the UCI WorldTour. None of the men’s or women’s teams has been announced, but reigning men’s world road titlist Peter Sagan, the 2015 Tour of California winner from Slovakia, will return. Megan Guarnier, a part-time San Mateo resident and a 2016 Olympian, will defend her women’s title.
“The Amgen Tour of California has been a superb addition to the Women’s World Tour calendar,” said Guarnier, who won the opening stage last year. “I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to race at the highest level on American soil.”
Following the flat men’s Stage 1 in Sacramento, Stage 2 will begin in Modesto and advance to San Jose, the last Northern California stop. Stage 3 will be a coastal trek from Pismo Beach to Morro Bay followed by another long road race from Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita.
A summit finish to Mount Baldy in the San Gabriel Mountains will conclude Stage 5, which begins in Ontario. Stage 6 will be an individual time trial at Big Bear Lake, followed by the concluding Stage 7 road race from Mountain High ski resort to Pasadena.
Because the Tour of California will be a WorldTour event, more of the sport’s elite international squads will be mandated to compete. As a result, fewer Pro Continental and Continental teams, usually featuring younger pros, will participate.
Amgen Tour of California
First stage: May 14, Sacramento
Second stage: May 15, Modesto to San Jose
Seventh (final) stage: May 20, Mountain High ski resort to Pasadena