AEG, organisers of the Amgen Tour of California, announced today that they have altered the route of this year's stage 5 from Seaside to Paso Robles. The change was necessitated due to landslides which blocked the coastal Highway 1 after late winter storms in March. The stage will start and end in the same cities, but will take an inland route which avoids the coastal highway entirely.
The organisation was working with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), monitoring the status of repairs to the road. One landslide north of the Bixby Bridge resulted in part of the road collapsing and another slide 45 miles to the south buried the road.
Reports last month stated that the repairs to the highway would take right up until the May 19 stage. AEG president Andrew Messick set a deadline of April 30 to make a decision on the route and today announced the change.
"After working closely with Caltrans and assessing our options, we have determined that it is necessary to re-route Stage 5 of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California," said Messick.
"We appreciate the hard work of all involved, including Caltrans and our Stage 5 start and finish host cities, to make this route change a seamless one. We are looking forward to showcasing a portion of California that the race has never visited, and a stage that will feature challenging terrain and a remarkable day of racing."
Seaside will remain the host city for the start, but instead of heading south to the coast, the race will instead head east through Fort Ord and the Laguna Seca raceway. The course then heads down highway 68 to Laureles Grade and the day's first classified climb.
A sprint in Carmel Valley precedes two more KOM sprints on Carmel Valley Road, both category 4. The day's second sprint comes in Greenfield at kilometer 91, when the stage is not even half over.
After 20km of flat roads, the peloton will encounter a gradual 300m unclassified climb followed by continual rolling terrain near the San Antonio Reservoir. The final KOM on Interlake Road comes with 33km to go before the peloton heads down Nacimiento Lake Drive to approach Paso Robles from the north.
At the end of the day, the racers will have spent more than 6.5 hours on the bike as they cover 217km and nearly 3000 meters of climbing. Coming directly after the Sierra Road mountaintop finish and before the Solvang Time Trial, the stage offers little rest for the general classification contenders.