The 2018 Amgen Tour of California peloton will ride through the heart of some of the areas hit hardest by the state's back-to-back disasters over the winter, and the race and its stars are stepping up to help raise funds for local disaster relief.
In December, the largest wildfire on record in Southern California swept through Ventura County. Just as residents began to recover, heavy rains in January battered the damaged landscape, causing massive mudslides that washed away homes and damaged roadways.
The stage 2 route from Ventura to Gibraltar Road on May 14 is scheduled to travel through Montecito, where 21 people died in mudslides on January 9, but organisers say this route could change because of road damage.
"With the recent fires and flooding in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, there will likely be changes to a section of the stage 2 route that passes through Camarillo and Montecito as several bridges are being assessed for repair or replacement," organisers said Thursday in an announcement detailing the 2018 men's and women's race routes.
World champion and 'King of California' Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) have all committed to making the 2018 start line in Long Beach on May 13, and all three will contribute to the benefit auction.
"Signed apparel from these all-star sprinters, along with other past Amgen Tour of California favorites, will soon be available through an Amgen Tour of California online auction benefitting American Red Cross Disaster Relief in light of the devastation brought on by wildfires and mudslides throughout the state," race organisers said Thursday.
"Race fans – and California fans – will be able to bid on exclusive items from merchandise to behind-the-scenes race experiences to help people affected by disasters. One-hundred per cent of the proceeds from the Amgen Tour of California auction organized by STAPLES Center Foundation support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. More details soon at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
Organisers said with parts of the state still impacted by wildfires and subsequent mudslides, affected portions of the route will be inspected up until race time, and race routes are subject to change to ensure fan and rider safety.