Specific route details for the 2011 Amgen Tour of California professional cycling race are being announced this week via specially-produced videos highlighting each of the race’s eight stages. Today’s videos, which were produced by cities of Livermore, San Jose, Seaside, Paso Robles, and Solvang, highlight Stages 4, 5 and 6 of the race, and can be found on the Amgen Tour of California Web site (www.amgentourofcalifornia.com), along with the Stage 1, 2 and 3 videos. All eight stages will be posted by Friday, Feb. 11.
Maps and elevation profiles are also available upon request.
Stage 4, Presented by UnitedHealthcare: Livermore to San Jose (Wednesday, May 18) http://www.amgentourofcalifornia.com/Route/stages/stage4.html
Start Location: Livermore (L St. and 1st St.)
Finish Location: San Jose (KOM on Sierra Rd.)
Stage 4 is short, at just 81 miles, but what it lacks in distance it more than makes up for with difficulty. Two of Stage 4’s five rated climbs are legendary in California cycling lore. While the Amgen Tour of California has gone through Livermore many times before, the city is hosting its first official stage start in 2011. Home of the renowned Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, the City of Livermore (established in 1869) played a prominent role in California’s “Gold Rush” history and today is home to a thriving wine industry. After the cyclists get their legs loosened a bit around the Laboratories, the race will head out to Mines Rd. and to the first KOM of the day. Mines Rd. is 25 miles long, hilly and winding. It will be easy for a few riders to get off the front and create significant gaps from the peloton.
In 2010, the riders enjoyed a long descent into a finish in Modesto off of Mines Rd. This year, there will be no such luxury. Mines Rd. becomes San Antonio Canyon Rd., and after shaking things up with two more KOMs, the riders will face the daunting challenge of Mt. Hamilton, the Tour’s first Hors Category climb. The two-mile climb to the Mt. Hamilton Observatory (4,130’) will offer a spectacular view of San Jose and Silicon Valley. Next will be the treacherous descent down the front side of Mt. Hamilton. Almost immediately after finishing the descent, the race will take a turn onto Sierra Rd., a 3.5-mile ascent with a 10 percent average grade and 1,700’ feet of climbing. What is usually the home of herds of cattle will be replaced by thousands of screaming fans as they welcome home the winner, who will almost certainly wear the golden leaders jersey.
Stage 5, Presented by Rabobank: Seaside to Paso Robles (Thursday, May 19) http://www.amgentourofcalifornia.com/Route/stages/stage5.html
Start Location: Seaside (City Hall – Canyon Del Rey Blvd.)
Finish Location: Paso Robles (11th and Spring St.)
The Amgen Tour of California will return to Seaside and the Monterey Peninsula once again in 2011, marking the first official race start in this storied location since the race last visited the city in 2008. The race will take the same route down Hwy. 1 through Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove, and Big Sur, providing some of the most dramatic and compelling scenery of any location in the world. The route has quickly become legendary among the pro peloton with the Bixby Bridge, towering cliffs, crashing waves, lighthouses, two KOMs, and herds of sea lions that gradually give way to a gentler coast line.
After passing through a Sprint line in San Simeon (home of the Hearst Castle), the race will enter the tranquil seaside town of Cambria, where their main street is lined with quaint shops. A mile later, tranquility will be left behind as the riders start Santa Rosa Creek Rd. The road is narrow, twisting and overgrown with hanging vegetation, making the racers feel like they’ve entered the set of a Harry Potter movie. On this route, if the peloton lets a rider escape up the road, they may never see him again. It will be a constant 2-3 percent grade up Santa Rosa Creek Rd. until the riders reach the 20 percent “Wall.” A steep and technical descent will face the riders as they crest the summit of the KOM.
From here, Stage 5 will offer up some of the most beautiful roads of the 2011 route into Paso Robles as the roads roll past several of the famous vineyards and wineries of the Paso Robles wine region. This is the same long finishing straight to the Downtown City Park in Paso Robles that was used the last time the Amgen Tour of California finished here in 2009. There were thousands of screaming fans to watch the finishing sprint then, and a repeat performance is guaranteed for the conclusion of Stage 5 in 2011.
Stage 6, Presented by Herbalife: Solvang Individual Time Trial (Friday, May 20) http://www.amgentourofcalifornia.com/Route/stages/stage6.html
Start Location: Intersection of Mission Dr. and 1st St.
Finish Location: Copenhagen Dr.
After a hiatus in 2010, the Amgen Tour of California’s individual time trial returns to Solvang, the quaint Danish village that plays host annually to some of the Pro Tour teams for training camps, as well as some of the largest cycling events in the U.S. With the start and finish lines located only one block apart, Stage 6 will be an ideal location for spectators to view the race. The route will highlight the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, winding through quaint towns, vineyards, and farms, and one short but steep climb up Ballard Canyon. This year’s short, flat and fast time trial will create a challenging test for the riders and is expected to be a decisive day of the race. As in the past, the Solvang time trial will separate the true contenders for the golden jersey from the rest of the field.