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Opening stage one for the tough men
The 2011 Amgen Tour of California will kick off in the high-altitude peaks of the Sierra Mountain Range in the city of South Lake Tahoe. The peloton will race counter-clockwise around the scenic blue lake for one and half laps and finish in the city of North Lake Tahoe for a total of 191 kilometres.
En route, the sprinters will have an opportunity to use the flatter portions of the race to contest the Herbal Life intermediate sprints located at Tahoe City and South Lake Tahoe. The climbers in the group will contest four California Travel & Tourism Commission King of the Mountain (KOM) ascents at the top of Emerald Bay, Spooner Junction and Emerald Bay, for a second time, and Brockway Summit. The race will end with a 2.5 km ascent to the finish line in Northstar at Tahoe Resort.
Chris Horner, RadioShack:
"Already stage one is going to change the Tour of California’s first shot at the overall classification. It is going to cause some splits with riders that are contesting the overall classification and cause guys who are not going for the GC to open up big gaps. These gaps will open up opportunities for breakaways to go up the road and possibly make it all the way to the finish line during the later stage of the Tour of California.
"This stage will suit a rider like Peter Sagan because this type of rider is quite good on those climbs, if the true climbers are not going full-gas. If we are in a group of 30 or 50 coming to the finish line, a guy like that will certainly be there at the end and be a threat for the win."
Mike Tamayo, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling:
"This stage is essentially one and a half loops of Lake Tahoe. The scenery and backdrop might be perfect for the cameras and photographers, but the stage is far from perfect for a pure sprinter. There are four KOM's and two sprints. Expect an early breakaway to get a decent size advantage, with so many jerseys up for grab on day one.
"The final climb over Brockway Summit is almost 1000 feet of climbing. The crest of the climb comes with essentially five miles of descending to the finish. Not much room for recovery. Expect to see a bit more lethargic racing with the altitude over 6000 feet all day. This usually saps a rider’s ability to do to many extra deep efforts. The wind could play a big factor, with the lake not providing much shelter. Look for a hard-man type of racer at the end of this day."
Image ©: AEG Cycling
Image ©: AEG Cycling