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Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-Lululemon) going hard.
Criterium and time trial stages on tap for 2014
Amgen Tour of California organisers have become the latest race to announce that they, too, will add a women’s race to their repertoire in 2014.
Two of the Grand Tours, Tour de France and Vuelta a España, have already revealed their intention to hold one-day races to coincide with their men’s events. One of the USA's premier stage races, the Amgen Tour of California, will go one better with two single-day races, which will be sponsored by SRAM, according to a report on ESPN.
"It has always been our priority to create a race that promotes both men's and women's cycling as well as how cycling is beneficial to a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle for the entire family," executive director Kristin Bachochin told ESPN. "We are very pleased that with both the sponsorship commitment from SRAM and other logistical factors, we now have the ability to add a second day of women's racing in 2014."
The first of these will be a city centre criterium in Sacramento, which will take place after the start of the opening stage of the men’s race on Sunday May 11. The following day will feature a time trial, over the same course as the men, in Folsom. Total prize money of $20,000 will be on offer, between the two events.
The idea of a concurring women’s event is not new to the organisers. For the past three years, they have run a time trial for a small field, staged ahead of the event in the afternoon. Evelyn Stevens won last year’s event in a time that would have seen her beat the likes of Jens Voigt and Matt Brammeier. However, it was criticised for being too small and lacking in course safety. It seems like the protestations didn’t fall onto deaf ears.
Specialized-lululemon owner and general manager Kristy Scrymgeour was one of those people who lobbied the organisers. While she still hopes to have a full event in the future, she’s happy with the new proposal.
"My opinion is that every improvement they make is a step in the right direction," she told ESPN. "There are things that aren't perfect, but we always want to support it. We know they're really trying." Scrymgeour expects that there will be a strong field there.
Earlier this year, race organisers announced that they would boost their WorldTour team participation to nine teams. Those teams will be BMC, Belkin, Cannondale, Giant-Shimano, Garmin, Trek Factory Racing, Omega Pharma-Quickstep, Orica-GreenEdge and Sky.
Full details of the event, along with the remaining men’s teams to take part and the full course details, will be announced next week.