The tenth anniversary edition route is set for the 2015 Amgen Tour of California. The milestone course will feature several rider and fan-favorite locales from past races, as well as five stages that highlight different regions of California for the very first time.
An all-star field featuring 144 of the world’s most talented and decorated cyclists will come together in California May 10-17 to compete on the eight-day route covering 724.1 miles of the state’s most stunning and recognizable roadways, highways and coastline drives. Every year, the Amgen Tour of California serves as a testament to athletic greatness of the participants, captivating audiences with thrilling sprints, climbs and overall race strategy, and the tenth edition of the Amgen Tour of California will raise the bar to its highest level yet.
Starting in front of California’s iconic State Capitol building, the first two stages are the flattest and should make for exciting moments with some of the world’s best sprinters facing-off during the race’s first weekend giving fans a “first taste” of the anticipated bunch sprints to the finish expected in several stages. As for uphill challenges, riders will be tested by more than 43,000 feet of climbing throughout their eight days on the course including much anticipated encounters with Mount Hamilton and Mt. Baldy, which will serve up climbs as challenging as any in North America.
The final decisive days of the race will be highlighted by the Individual Time Trial set in beautiful, high-altitude Big Bear Lake and the Queen Stage finish at the top of Mt. Baldy with its 1,900-foot elevation gain in the final 4.3 miles, over eight percent average gradient. On the final race day which begins at L.A. LIVE, the overall title will be up for grabs until the finish line at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena.
“We’ve reached a milestone this year with the tenth edition of the race, and we want everything to reflect that cache, from the best lineup of teams we’ve ever had to an unbelievably beautiful and exciting route,” said Kristin Bachochin Klein, executive director of the Amgen Tour of California and senior vice president of AEG Sports. “All of the pieces of the race have come together to set the stage for something truly legendary and memorable. I think it’s going to be a year for the record books.”
The 2015 Amgen Tour of California will have something spectacular to see every day (route and start times are subject to change):
Stage 1, Presented by Visit California
Sunday, May 10 – Sacramento
Start/Finish Location: State Capitol Building, L Street & 11th Street
Start Time: 11:00 a.m.
Stage Length: 127 miles
Fast and flat, with water and bridges galore… Stage 1 is destined to be a sprinter’s delight. Each year, the Amgen Tour of California endeavors to highlight areas of the Golden State that it has never been to before, and the new Stage 1 course definitely accomplishes this.
After an initial crossing of the Sacramento River via the iconic Tower Bridge, the race will pass quickly through West Sacramento to River Road. From here, the race will follow the winding Sacramento River through the small towns of Clarksburg, Courtland and Walnut Grove. The stage’s fourth bridge crossing will take the race back over the river into Isleton. A few miles later, the route again crosses the river into Rio Vista and the heart of the California Delta region.
The riders will then head north through Solano County into one of the most popular alumni race cities, Davis. Continuing north through Woodland, the route turns east and heads back to West Sacramento, across Tower Bridge and the Sacramento River for the fourth and final time. Heading straight toward the State Capitol building, the riders will enter onto the same finishing circuits that have delivered huge crowds and have showcased some of the most exciting sprint finishes in the history of the Amgen Tour of California. In 2014, the sprint between legendary fast men Mark Cavendish and John Degenkolb resulted in the closest margin of victory in race history – a mere three millimeters!
Stage 2, Presented by Breakaway from Cancer®
Monday, May 11 – Nevada City to Lodi
Start Location: Broad Street & Pine Street
Finish Location: Hutchins Street & Walnut Street
Start Time: 11:00 a.m.
Stage Length: 120 miles
With just one climb and elevations of 2,500 feet in Nevada City, which is hosting its third race start, and a more gentle climb of 55 feet in Lodi, this will likely be another sprinter-friendly stage. After a short circuit on the historic Nevada City Classic course, the riders will head into Grass Valley where another warm reception will await. From Grass Valley, the peloton will head due south on two race favorites: Rattlesnake Road and Dog Bar Road.
The route passes just east of Auburn this year over the Auburn-Foresthill Bridge, the tallest bridge in California. From here, the riders can look over their shoulders to the American River some 730 feet below and the start of the Highway 49 climb. Once they reach the King of the Mountain (KOM), it is a fast downhill route into Lodi. On the way, the stage will cross several railroad crossings and past several vineyards that have established Lodi as the “Zinfandel Capital of the World.” Expect a shootout between some of the top sprinters in the world as the peloton reaches the finishing circuits downtown.
Tuesday, May 12 – San Jose
Start Location: Berryessa Community Center
Finish Location: Motorcycle County Park
Start Time: 11:15 a.m.
Stage Length: 105 miles
This will be the race’s tenth consecutive year in San Jose, the only host city to earn that distinction. The start returns to the Berryessa Community Center from which riders will head toward Livermore on a familiar route via Calaveras Road. This is a very narrow and twisty road that makes it easy for a breakaway group to escape out of sight of the peloton. Once the race reaches Livermore, the route turns onto Mines Road. Not only is this another road with scores of opportunities for a break to get clear of the main field, it is also a harbinger of things to come: Mount Hamilton. Yes, the race will head up the “backside” of the 4,216-foot behemoth.
Reaching the KOM, the cyclists will face a very steep and technical descent of Mount Hamilton. At the bottom awaits the fifth and final KOM via Quimby Road will truly separate the climbers from the rest of the peloton. Descending back into San Jose, the route will use San Felipe Road to reach Metcalf Road. Many will recall Metcalf Road as part of the 2013 Individual Time Trial. For 2015, the race will come to the same finish at the Motorcycle County Park, but from the other direction. The four miles of Metcalf Road are highlighted by short rolling climbs with a final 0.25-mile climb to the finish featuring gradients over 10 percent.
Wednesday, May 13 – Pismo Beach to Avila Beach
Start Location: Pismo Beach Pier
Finish Location: Front Street & San Antonia Street
Start Time: 11:30 a.m.
Stage Length: 107 miles
This will be another day for the sprinters to rule. With less than eight miles separating these two alumni cities, some riders may be hoping for a very short race day. But, tack on another 100 miles, and throw in some hidden gems of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, and you have the makings of a route destined to become a fan favorite. Pismo Beach will host a reprise of the 2014 Stage 5 start on the pier. The route will then head south through the seaside town of Grover Beach and the rustic community of Guadeloupe. As the race continues down Highway 1 and through the town of Orcutt, many of the local cyclists will recognize roads that are used for races in the Santa Maria area. As the route turns onto idyllic Foxen Canyon Road, the peloton will be treated to lush vineyard and winery views. A left turn will put the race on Tepusquet Road, where many of the riders will see similarities to Morgan Territory Road used in 2013 near Livermore.
Along the 15 miles of Tepusquet, the riders will be treated to cool breezes, plenty of shade, tranquil farms and ranches. Perhaps it will take their minds off the long climb they are on. Reaching the descent of Tepusquet, the route turns left, and the racers will be able to smell the sea breeze all the way to the finish. A right turn onto Thompson Avenue, and many of the riders will realize they are on the same route into Avila Beach that they raced on in 2013. Arroyo Grande will again produce a great crowd at the final sprint of the day. Spectators will again line the narrow roads in Avila Beach awaiting another amazing finish. Will it be another solo rider like Jens Voigt, who rode clear to victory in 2013, or will they be treated to a field sprint?
Stage 5, Presented by Visit California
Thursday, May 14 – Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita
Start Location: Cabrillo Boulevard & Garden Street
Finish Location: Magic Mountain Parkway
Start Time: 11:45 a.m.
Stage Length: 98 miles
With warm breezes coming off the beach across from the start line, it will be just as difficult to leave Santa Barbara as it was in 2008 when the riders took the same route into Santa Clarita. Winding their way through picturesque Montecito and Carpinteria, the riders will be getting their legs ready for two short but steep KOMs as they approach Lake Casitas. A fast descent down Highway 150 will take them alongside the lake and into Ojai. Following another KOM up Dennison Grade, the race will return to the charming town of Santa Paula, the base of Balcom Canyon looms just a few miles away.
For many local riders, Balcom Canyon is just too steep and imposing a climb to even attempt. Walking up the top section is the only option for many. This is a unique climb where the riders can easily see the KOM from the start of the climb. Crowd estimates have been as high as 5,000 fans. Definitely a great place to watch the race come by… slowly.
Following a “white-knuckle” descent of Grimes Canyon, the route heads through the orange groves near the small town of Piru, and the race starts its 13-mile eastward push on Highway 126 toward Santa Clarita. A prevailing tailwind should help keep the race together and treat the crowd in Santa Clarita to another massive field sprint on perfect wide roads.
Stage 6, Presented by Lexus
Friday, May 15 – Big Bear Lake Individual Time Trial
Start Location: Village Drive & Pine Knot Avenue
Finish Location: Pine Knot Marina
Start Time: 1:00 p.m.
Stage Length: 15 miles
At 6,752 feet and featuring one of the most beautiful lakes in all of California, the City of Big Bear Lake will host of the Individual Time Trial. The course begins in the heart of the Village in Big Bear Lake. The first three miles of the route wind through a residential area along the south shore of the lake. Taking the Stanfield Cutoff across the lake, the course turns left and continues on Highway 38 to the town of Fawnskin. As the route turns back to the City of Big Bear Lake, expect large crowds in Fawnskin to cheer the riders coming and going. The return back into Big Bear Lake will essentially follow the same route.
As the route makes a right onto Big Bear Blvd., with just 0.6 miles left, the riders will make a right onto Pine Knot Avenue for the final sprint to the finish line and onto a 1,000-foot jetty greeted by thousands of cheering fans. Cyclists are presented to a one-of-a-kind waterfront finish with spectacular panoramic views of Big Bear Lake. This is very flat and fast course that will favor time trial specialists. Don’t expect riders to score huge time gaps over their rivals to take a big lead going into Stage 7.
Stage 7, Presented by Lexus
Saturday, May 16 – Ontario to Mt. Baldy (Queen Stage)
Start/Finish Location: Mt. Baldy Ski Area
Start Time: 11:35 a.m.
Stage Length: 80 miles
It’s been called the “Queen Stage” and compared to the epic stages of the European Grand Tours – a return to the mountaintop finish that thrilled so many fans in 2011 and 2012. This is the training ground for many of the local riders in Southern California. Only handfuls have done the entire route, but after the 2012 stage, this is now one of hottest Strava segments in the U.S. It is very possible that the winner of the 2015 Amgen Tour of California will be decided on the final 15 switchbacks to the finish on Mt. Baldy.
The race will begin at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, the largest indoor arena in California’s Inland Empire and home to several professional sports teams.
The route heads north to Rancho Cucamonga and then west to Upland. Just six miles from the start, the route rejoins the 2011/2012 routes. From here, the riders will start an 11-mile climb to the Village of Mt. Baldy. After an acute left, the racers will face another mile of climbing up Glendora Ridge Road to their first of three monster KOMs. From there, they will navigate 12 miles of narrow and twisting roads that gradually descend 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.
The locals know it as “GMR,” and GMR takes no prisoners. A left turn onto Glendora Mountain Road will lead the peloton to a grueling nine-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 three miles… and the real climbing will not have even begun! At Ice House Canyon, the route makes 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 that 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 in view. At 0.25 miles to go, the route makes a hard left, and the racers will face the final five switchbacks to the finish line. This will be the stage where legends are made and winners are decided.
Stage 8, Presented by Amgen
Sunday, May 17 – L.A. LIVE (Los Angeles) to the Rose Bowl Stadium (Pasadena)
Start Location: L.A. LIVE (Chick Hearn Court)
Finish Location: Pasadena Rose Bowl Stadium
Start Time: 9:15 a.m.
Stage Length: 60 miles
What better way to celebrate the uniqueness of Los Angeles than a Stage 8 route that highlights countless iconic images in downtown L.A. and a tour through the heart of several well-known neighborhoods? The day will begin in the heart of L.A.’s famous sports and entertainment district. The start line will span Chick Hearn Court and connect STAPLES Center (home of the Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings, Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers) and L.A. LIVE (home of the annual GRAMMY, Emmy and Espy Awards as well as race presenter AEG’s worldwide headquarters).
The early morning start will begin with a five-mile circuit that incorporates a portion of the 2010 Time Trial route. The circuit will highlight the Biltmore Hotel, Pershing Square, City Hall, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the Los Angeles Music Center, STAPLES Center, and L.A. LIVE. Upon completing five laps and an hour of racing in downtown L.A., the race will head north to its ultimate conclusion in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl Stadium. The neighborhoods of Downtown L.A., Chinatown, Lincoln Heights, Cypress Park, Mount Washington, Montecito Heights, Highland Park and Eagle Rock will all get a chance to watch the peloton race over their streets.
Entering Pasadena on Colorado Blvd., the Colorado Street Bridge will reprise its 2014 role as a backdrop to the beautiful Arroyo Seco. As the peloton drops into Arroyo Seco Park and the familiar environs of the Rose Bowl Stadium, the riders will do nearly one complete 3.1-mile circuit of the Rose Bowl Stadium before reaching the finish line on West Drive. The lap counter will read seven laps to go, after which the winner of the 2015 Amgen Tour of California will take his place on the podium.
Photo © Christy Nicholson / EchelonDesignPhoto.com