Tough mountain makes for "epic" stage
Jelly Belly p/b Kenda directeur sportif Danny Van Haute recently had a chance to take his riders up Mount Baldy and has predicted that the Amgen Tour of California's stage seven, which takes in the climb, will be "epic".
Between sponsor visits, media training and naval base sessions, the team's riders managed to include a trip up the intimidating Californian climb to sample what's in store during the race's penultimate stage.
"The climb starts on the same time trial course as the San Dimas Stage Race, up Glendora, and after 4.8 miles the route passes the town of Mount Baldy - that's where the climb starts to get really hard," Van Haute explained.
"Going into Mount Baldy is not easy and the climb continues for a total of 26 miles. It is going to be a hard stage, epic."
Starting in the college town of Claremont, the course for stage seven 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 level of difficulty up to that of a Grand Tour stage, and will surely decide a worthy winner of the race.
"I've only seen pictures of the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana but this is an epic stage; nice scenery with great roads and no pot holes or sand," added Van Haute. "The last four miles or so will be the hardest.
"For my guys, realistically, I don't think any of my guys can climb with guys like Levi Leipheimer [pictured above] on that stage. On another stage yes, but that stage, no. We will be fighting to survive. It's a doozy.
"It's a Tour de France-level climb. I think the winner of the Amgen Tour of California will come out of that stage or he will have to do well on that climb."
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