Stage 7 from Claremont to Mt. Baldy will present riders with 75.8 miles of racing and the most daunting obstacle ever included in the Tour of California - a brutal final climb that ascends over 5,000 vertical feet, with more than 2000 feet covered in the final 10km of the stage.
Starting in the college town of Claremont, the course heads immediately uphill for eight miles to the village of Baldy for the first KOM before looping back up Glendora Ridge Road for another mile of climbing. A 12-mile respite precedes a technical descent to the San Gabriel Reservoir and down into Glendora for the only sprint of the day.
The race then sends riders up the Glendora Mountain Road climb, which has been the time trial stage of the San Dimas Stage Race for nearly a decade, but for the first time since fires and erosion closed the upper portion in 2004, the full length of the 8.5 mile climb will be used in competition.
The climbing doesn't stop there, as riders face another 12 miles of gradual uphill before reaching Baldy Village for the second time. Once the riders turn onto Baldy Road, they hit three steep miles of ascending which is just a warm-up for the final push to the line.
The final 2.5 miles punishes the riders with 10 torturous switchbacks with grades so steep it will seem more like the Monte Zoncolan than Alpe d'Huez.
The race's first ever high mountain finish brings the...
Australian hopes Qatar will be springboard to Worlds place
Mark Renshaw said that his victory in the Tour of Qatar will not alter the sprint hierarchy at HTC-Highroad. The Australian became leader of the team midway through the race once it became apparent that his form outstripped that of his leader Mark Cavendish.
"I certainly didn’t expect to be in the position of winning the Tour of Qatar at the start of the week," Renshaw told Cyclingnews in Doha. "I was very happy with my prologue, I was happy to be up there in a good position. That put me up there for the rest of the week. Unfortunately we had the Cavendish crash so the focus shifted towards getting a result to me."
Renshaw assumed the responsibility of leading HTC-Highroad’s Qatari challenge after stage two, when Cavendish failed to make an impression in a mass sprint captured by his fierce rival Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo).
"I think after three days the team shifted all its focus to me," Renshaw said. "Mark wasn’t feeling at the top of his game. The crash really affected him. I think his form is good but he’s just been a little bit unlucky so far this season."
By winning the penultimate stage, Renshaw took the overall lead from his fellow countryman Haussler. On the final day, he picked up two seconds at intermediate bonus sprints, then marked Haussler tightly to seal victory. While Renshaw was delighted with the win, he insisted that he will be equally happy to pilot Cavendish to victory in the major races later in the season.
"It’s good to get some runs on the board, I don’t get the chance too often," Renshaw explained. "But I don’t think it’s going to affect [the hierarchy] too much because once I get to the bigger races...
Behind the scenes images from the Garmin-Cervelo camp
Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) is planning his season around the Classics before aiming for a stage win at the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España.
In this video from the Garmin-Cervélo team camp in Girona, he tells Cyclingnews about his race programme for the year. He explains how Tyler Farrar will be the team’s hope for the points jersey at the Tour, while he will be chasing stage wins and enjoying racing the Tour in his World Champion’s jersey. The team’s goal from day one, he says, is to aim for stage wins in France, and see what happens with the General Classification.
The 33 year old Norweigan is confident that the new team will be successful in the Classics, and says that every member of the squad is capable of winning. He doesn’t think the number of strong riders the squad has is a problem, saying they will need to race smartly, and be able to play on each others' strengths. He will ride all the Classics with the team, but his biggest goal for the Spring will be achieving his first win at Paris-Roubaix.
Since winning the Road World Championship in Geelong in October, Hushovd has had an increase in media interest and requests for appearances – but he hasn’t let that interfere with his training, and is still feeling good after the team training camp in Calpe.