The major difficulties are in the first half of the stage, but there is still a potential headwind and enough terrain to make for another hard day. The 11.3km, 610m (2,000ft) San Marcos Pass ascent will provide an excellent springboard for a well-motivated breakaway group. Descending the south side, the race enters the Santa Ynez Valley wine region, setting for the film Sideways.
The riders will next pass through Los Olivos, the site of Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. Heading north up Foxen Canyon Road the race will cross through Santa Maria and then head to Guadalupe through this agricultural area’s fields of broccoli, carrots, melons and other produce. Expect another field sprint at the finish in Avila Beach. The contenders for the overall might want to avail themselves of the town’s hot springs as the next two days will be crucial in the race for the leader’s jersey.