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Amgen Tour of California organizer AEG today announced the 256.6-mile course for the 2017 UCI Women’s WorldTour event, which after the cancellation of the Philly Classic is now the only Women’s WorldTour event to take place in North America.
Taking place May 11-14, the four-day Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race empowered with SRAM is run alongside the men’s Tour of California, and takes the world’s leading cyclists an picturesque, challenging and highly competitive competition through Nortern California’s iconic highways, byways and coastlines.
“I’ve applauded and supported the Amgen Tour of California over the past decade, and seen firsthand how much this important race has done to raise the profile of American cycling,” said official Race Ambassador and America’s most decorated woman in cycling, Kristin Armstrong.
Armstrong, celebrated for winning her third Olympic gold medal in the time trial last summer, won the Amgen Tour of California women’s time trial back 2011, and together with her team Twenty16-RideBiker took out the team time trial in last year’s edition.
“The Amgen Tour of California showcases the best of cycling, and inspires the next generation of cyclists here,” she said. “I’m so thrilled to come aboard as part of the race in a capacity where I can help continue to spread excitement about the sport, women’s cycling and this world-class race.”
A Brief History
A women’s ‘Tour’ of California has been around since 2008, but it wasn’t until 2015 that the race actually consisted of multiple stages.
The women’s race first started out as a criterium, which ran for two years before morphing into a single time trial held in 2011, 2012 and 2013. No women’s Tour of California was held in 2014, but when the race returned on the calendar in 2015, it was awarded a UCI2.1 ranking and consisted of three stages, accompanied by a separate Tour of California individual time trial (ranked UCI1.1).
Part of the inaugural UCI Women’s WorldTour in 2016, last year’s edition saw a big European contingent and as a result the performances were world-class with Boels-Dolmans’ Megan Guarnier claiming the yellow leader’s jersey on home soil.
The 2017 Route
Stage 1: South Lake Tahoe
Thursday, May 11
72.7 miles / 117 kilometers, 4,700-foot gain (at an altitude of 6,500 feet)
Expected Outcome: Expect a select group fighting their way to the finish with riders coming in over the next 5-10 minutes. Not a particularly difficult stage, but with just two climbing stages, riders will try to get some separation and build on the gap going into Stage 2.
The 2017 race will start and finish at Heavenly Mountain Resort. The route will circle Lake Tahoe in a clockwise direction, passing through South Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay and Tahoe City. As the riders reach the north shore of Lake Tahoe, they will enter Nevada and ride through Incline Village. The stage will feature two sprints, 5,300’ of elevation gain and two Queen of the Mountain (QOM) climbs. The final climb will be a brutal ascent back to the finish at Heavenly Mountain Resort.
Lake Tahoe is known for its natural wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts, so fans will likely be watching from boats, paddle boards and bikes.
Stage 2: South Lake Tahoe
Friday, May 12
67.1 miles / 108 kilometers
Expected Outcome: This is a very difficult stage with two large climbs and an uphill finish. Expect a group of 5-10 fighting their way to the finish with riders trailing in for the next 15 minutes.
A new road racecourse awaits the women for Stage 2. The racers will return to Heavenly Mountain Resort for the start, heading west and then south on CA-89. This will take them over the 7,740-foot summit of Luther Pass where they will contest the first of three QOMs for the stage followed by a quick descent into the spectacular Carson River Basin. The route will then take the riders on a loop through the Washoe Reservation before heading northeast into Nevada. A left turn will take them north on Kingsbury Grade. The “Grade” has never been attempted in any previous Amgen Tour of California stage. This is an 8-mile climb that gains 2,700’ in elevation. The second QOM will come at an elevation of 7,400’. The descent back to South Lake Tahoe will provide many beautiful views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. The final QOM of the stage will await the riders at the finish at Heavenly Mountain Resort.
Stage 3: Elk Grove to Sacramento
Saturday, May 13
73.3 miles / 118 kilometers
Expected Outcome: Flat, fast and primed for a group sprint to the finish.
The race welcomes the City of Elk Grove as a first-time host. After a neutral circuit through the Elk Grove Regional Park, the race will head west and then south to the Sacramento River and the California Delta region. This will be a very fast and flat race route that should guarantee a day for the sprinters (including two Sprints along the way) and an exciting finish at the Capitol building in Sacramento, where some of the most exciting stage finishes in Amgen Tour of California history have unfolded.
Stage 4: Sacramento Circuit Race
Sunday, May 14
43.5 miles / 70 kilometers
Expected Outcome: On these very fast circuits, teams will protect riders in contention for the overall win and set up on the final lap for a massive sprint finish.
The Capitol Circuit Race has quickly earned the reputation as one of the fastest and most technical courses in the country. This flat 2.2-mile course features six turns. It encompasses the Capitol building and passes by several other notable state government buildings. The 90-minute race will include 20 laps of the circuit, beginning shortly after the men depart the course to begin their seven-day event.
Check out the visual overview of the 2017 men’s and women’s courses at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com/stages.