Route announcement: Mt. Baldy summit, Big Bear TT to be decisive stages for 2017 Amgen Tour of California

by Neal Rogers


Amgen Tour of California organizer AEG has announced the 575-mile course for the 2017 UCI WorldTour race, which will take many of the world’s best cyclists on an always picturesque and challenging and competition through California’s iconic highways, byways and coastlines this spring. The 12th annual edition of the race will visit 12 Host Cities from Sacramento to Pasadena.

Presented by Visit California, the route announcement includes a visual overview of the 2017 men’s and women’s courses at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com/stages.

“The Amgen Tour of California is America’s Greatest Race, and this year more than ever, the world will be watching,” said Kristin Klein, race president and executive vice president of AEG Sports. “As the sport of cycling continues to bloom in America, the Amgen Tour of California men’s and women’s events are both part of the UCI WorldTour for the first time, a privilege and designation reserved for the world’s premier races. This means the competition will reach an all-time high, with the best racers and best teams in the world lining up to take part.”

Local organizing committees in each of the Host Cities are recruiting fans (with and without cycling experience) to fill thousands of volunteer positions for various duties along the course. Volunteer registration is open at amgentourofcalifornia.com.

“For more than a decade, the Amgen Tour of California has played a vital role to Golden State travel, both in driving visitation and in focusing the eyes of the international cycling community on diverse destinations beyond the gateways,” said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California. “Since 2006, Visit California has been thrilled to partner with AEG on this one-of-a-kind event, which takes riders, spectators and viewers alike on a whirlwind tour that spans sun-soaked beaches, evergreen mountains, and everything in between, further showcasing the immense scope of all that California has to offer.”

Sunday, May 14
Stage 1, Sacramento: 104 miles/167.5 kilometers
Terrain: Flat/bunch sprint
Nine-time Host City Sacramento is no stranger to the Amgen Tour of California, having hosted two legendary tour starts as well as last year’s overall finish. Delivering an exciting showing every time, this year’s Sacramento leg will include the conclusion of the women’s race as well as the opening stage for the men as they begin their seven-day competition. Heading south out of Sacramento into the California Delta region, the course will be flat and fast. At 104 miles, the stage has more mileage than prior Capitol City editions, including two sprints and three laps in the shadow of the State Capitol building.

Monday, May 15
Men’s Stage 2, Modesto to San Jose: 88.8 miles/143 kilometers
Terrain: Climbing stage, uphill finish
After two neutral circuits at the start, the race will leave Modesto and head south to Patterson. Once through Patterson, the riders will leave the flatlands behind and start climbing Del Puerto Canyon the first of six King of the Mountain climbs on the day. Three additional KOMs will sap the legs of many in the peloton. The true climbers will save themselves for the HC climb up and over Mt. Hamilton. This stage set the table for the GC riders in 2015. The technical descent down Quimby Road gave several riders trouble in 2015. A short, but demanding climb will await the leaders as they ascend to the finish at the Santa Clara Motorcycle Park. Riders will climb about 9,000 feet during the stage, as well as contest two sprints. After missing last year, San Jose will return as a Host City for the eleventh time, an Amgen Tour record.

Tuesday, May 16
Men’s Stage 3, Pismo Beach to Morro Bay: 113.7 miles/183 kilometers
Terrain: Flat, uphill finish, bunch sprint
Two-time Host City Pismo Beach returns this year, and the aroma of clam chowder and the sound of crashing waves will be the sendoff for this nearly 115-mile stage. The riders will enjoy a little of everything they have come to expect from California: beaches, sand dunes, vineyards and wineries, a little climbing, lots of spectators, and lush countryside. Guadalupe, Orcutt, Nipomo, Arroyo Grande, and San Luis Obispo will all welcome the riders as they head back to the coast and a finish in Morro Bay, which became a very popular start city in its first showing last year. Riders will encounter one KOM, two sprints, and a steep 500-meter climb to the finish.

Wednesday, May 17
Men’s Stage 4, Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita: 100.3 miles/161.5 kilometers
Terrain: Medium mountains, bunch sprint
The Amgen Tour used this same route, from Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita, in 2015. Winding through Montecito and Carpinteria, riders will face two short but steep KOMs as they approach Lake Casitas. A fast descent down Hwy 150 will take them alongside the lake and into Ojai. Following another KOM up Dennison Grade, the race will return to the picturesque town of Santa Paula, where the base of the imposing Balcom Canyon, and its thousands of spectators, looms just a few miles away. Following a white-knuckle descent of Grimes Canyon, riders will head through the orange groves near the small town of Piru, and the race will begin its 13-mile eastward push on Hwy 126 toward Santa Clarita. A prevailing tailwind will help keep the race together, and the crowd waiting in Santa Clarita should see another massive field sprint. This stage comes in at more than 100 miles with two sprints, four KOMs and 7,700 feet of climbing.

Robert Gesink (Rabobank) beat Darwin Atapuma (Colombia-Coldeportes) atop Mt. Baldy at the 2012 Amgen Tour of California. Photo: Mark Johnson/Cor Vos.

Thursday, May 18
Men’s Stage 5, Ontario to Mt. Baldy: 77.9 miles/125.5 kilometers
Terrain: Mountain stage, steep summit finish
The winner of the 2017 Amgen Tour of California may be decided on the final 15 switchbacks to the finish atop Mt. Baldy, a climb that has been compared to the epic stages of the European Grand Tours. The training ground for many local Southern Californian riders, the race will return to the mountaintop finish that thrilled fans in 2011, 2012, and 2015. The race will begin at the Ontario Convention Center, marking the third time Ontario has hosted a stage culminating at Mt. Baldy. This year’s route will head north into Upland. From here, the riders will start an 11-mile climb to the Village of Baldy. After an acute left, the racers will face another mile of climbing up Glendora Ridge Road to their first of three KOMs. From there, they will face 12 miles of narrow and twisting roads that gradually lead to a fast and technical descent down the backside of Glendora Mountain Road. Riders and fans alike can expect spectacular vistas throughout the Angeles National Forest. Another descent down East Fork will take the riders to Highway 39 and the town of Azusa. Heading east, they’ll race through the outskirts of Glendora. A left turn onto Glendora Mountain Road (known by locals as “GMR”) will invite the peloton to a grueling 9-mile climb to the second KOM of the day, followed by 12 miles of a slight climb back to Baldy Village. A left turn back onto Baldy Road will see the race gain 1,000 feet in just two miles. At Ice House Canyon, the route will make a hard left turn where the sign to the ski area points toward the sky. Over the next 2.5 miles, the riders will face 10 switchbacks on a road so steep many of the race vehicles cannot make it to the top. With 1.2 miles to go, the road will straighten and the finish will be visible ahead. At 400 meters to go, the road makes a hard left and the racers face the final five switchbacks to the finish line, where legends are made. The stage will include two sprints, three KOMs and 12,000-foot elevation gain.

Friday, May 19
Men’s Stage 6, Big Bear Lake Time Trial: 14.2 miles/23 kilometers
Terrain: Flat and fast, high elevation
At almost 7,000 feet (2133m) elevation, and featuring one of the most beautiful lakes in California, the City of Big Bear Lake will welcome spectators for the third time — this year for the time trial stage. The course will begin in the heart of the Village in Big Bear Lake. The first three miles of the route wind through a residential section along the south shore of the lake. Taking the Stanfield Cutoff across the lake, the course will turn left, continuing on Hwy 38 to the town of Fawnskin. As the riders turn back toward the City of Big Bear Lake following essentially the same route back into town, they can expect large crowds in Fawnskin. Heading right onto Big Bear Blvd. with just .6 miles left, riders then turn left onto Pine Knoll Ave, through a narrow stone archway and onto a 1,000-foot jetty. For riders pushing their physical limits, the finish line will very close to the water’s edge. This is very flat and fast course; don’t expect big time gaps among GC contenders.

Saturday, May 20
Men’s Stage 7, Mountain High to Pasadena: 77 miles/124 kilometers
Terrain: Downhill, bunch sprint
Often called the backyard of Los Angeles, this will be the race’s 13th visit to Angeles National Forest. Starting at the Mountain High ski resort and finishing in Pasadena, there will be a lot of descending to this stage into the City of La Cañada Flintridge and the outskirts of Pasadena. As in 2014, the winner will be crowned in the heart of downtown Pasadena on Green Street in front of the Convention Center. The finish will feature a long straightaway that will allow teams to launch their sprinter for an exciting finish to the 2017 Amgen Tour of California.

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