10th Anniversary of Pinnacle of American Stage Racing
The men and women of Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies have landed in Sacramento and Lake Tahoe for the start of the Amgen Tour of California (AToC), the crown jewel of American stage racing. Now in its 10th anniversary, the classic event has risen to the top of North American cycling, and an estimated two million spectators will watch a who’s who of the world’s greatest riders toe the start line at the race’s “aluminum anniversary”.
A new and historic add to the pro peloton’s 10th trip through California is the addition of a three-day women’s UCI 2.1 ranked stage race. The race will commence with two days of racing around beautiful Lake Tahoe, and finishing concurrent to the start of the men’s tour, with an iconic loop around the state capitol in Sacramento. For the men, eight challenging stages will take the peloton on a north-to-south route, visiting some of the state’s most picturesque destinations. It is their 7th trip to the AToC, and the 7th time they will field the only all-North American team at North America’s biggest stage race.
Women Contest Historic Stage Race, Invitational Time Trial
A 6-woman team will contest the stage race for the Orange & Black. The team will look for a potential overall win backing 2014 La Course by Le Tour de France podium finisher and triple Canadian National Champion Leah Kirchmann. Kirchmann will be supported by World’s Team Time Trial bronze medalist Alison Tetrick, Tour of the Gila stage winner Annie Ewart, Queen of the Mountain champion at the San Dimas and Redlands Classic stage races Lex Albrecht, as well as Amy Charity and Maura Kinsella. The 2015 edition also sees the return of the women’s invitational time trial at Big Bear Lake, with Tetrick and Canadian Olympic track silver medalist Jasmin Glaesser set to represent the team.
The stage race sees the return of the AToC to Lake Tahoe for the first time since 2011, which saw the race cancel its first ever stage for the men due to blizzard conditions around the mountain resort famous for its volatile weather. Conditions for the women’s race, which runs on Friday, May 8th, are shaping up to be equally challenging. Tahoe has been blanketed with snow during the week, and it shows no sign of relenting. The race commences at South Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly Mountain Resort for a 74-mile loop around the lake, ending with the 15 percent grade Keller Street climb, and the second stage features a shorter trip, again beginning and ending at the resort.
Stage three will be a chance for the sprinters, with a tight 2-mile circuit through Sacramento around the state’s capitol building. It will also see the tour’s torch passed over to the men, who will finish their first stage on the same circuit in Sacramento.
“We are excited for the first-ever women’s stage race at the AToC, and everyone is more than ready for the tough conditions we will likely face,” said Performance Director Patrick McCarty. “2015 has been a great year for women’s cycling, and the addition of this stage race is another big step in the right direction. Lake Tahoe is an amazing place to host a race, and to dive into Sacramento to finish in front of the stage capitol – it is truly one of the biggest stages we could race on together. We are going to fight for the podium with everything we have.”
Men Visit Classic Stages, New Favorites in Journey from State Capitol to Rose Bowl
For its 10th anniversary, the AToC has developed an iconic route, visiting the best of California’s diverse, lush geography. Eight stages of racing will take the team from the state capitol and north to Nevada City before descending into the fertile central valley for a visit to San Jose (the only city to host a stage in all ten editions of the race). From there, it is all SoCal, with stops in Avila and Pismo Beach, Santa Barbara, Big Bear Lake, and another visit to the much feared finish atop Mt. Baldy, a barren, snaking route considered one of the most punishing uphill routes of the West Coast.
Stage eight provides an exciting new route, featuring live coverage on NBC. With the general classification likely decided in the mountains, the flat route will be one for the sprinters, taking the peloton from the heart of Los Angeles to downtown Pasadena, with a finish line feet from the city’s Rose Bowl arena.
The team’s roster features a mix of its top sprinters and climbers, designed to contest the two distinct course styles that will greet the peloton. For the leadout train, stage one’s Sacramento Circuit Race and stage two’s downhill trip from Nevada City to Lodi provide early chances for a dash to the line. Full-field finishes will be rare from there on out, but the final stage will provide one last shot for the fastmen, where leadout specialist Tom Soladay and sprinter Guillaume Boivin will attempt to deliver 2015 Tour of the Gila and 2014 Tour of Utah stage winner Eric Young for a stage win.
The potent climbing duo of Phil Gaimon and Mike Woods will lead the team through the race’s challenging middle stages, where dozens of uphill slopes will quickly clear up the picture on general classification. 2014 AToC stage winner, king of the mountains, and breakaway specialist Will Routley, Bjorn Selander, and Jesse Anthony will provide dimension and depth to the team’s most competitive roster in history, while Tom Zirbel will bring size and horsepower, and the team’s best chance at the podium in stage six’s time trial. All eight riders will have eyes peeled for the many opportunities that should arise across the diverse, challenging route.
“I would certainly say that this is the most competitive roster we have ever fielded at the AToC,” said Performance Director Jonas Carney. “We have had a fantastic early season, beginning with tough races in Portugal. We have continued to rack up podiums in climbing and sprint stages, and it was extremely hard to choose the roster here. In the end, I think the 8 riders we selected will give us a wealth of opportunity at the race. We can’t wait to start things off in Sacramento.”
Sacramento Circuit Race
Nevada City to Lodi
San Jose Circuit Race
Pismo Beach to Avila Beach
Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita
Big Bear Lake Time Trial
Ontario to Mt. Baldy
L.A. LIVE to Pasadena
South Lake Tahoe Circuit Race
South Lake Tahoe Circuit Race
Sacramento Circuit Race
Big Bear Lake Invitational Time Trial