The climb up Gibraltar Road outside of Santa Barbara is back as the Tour of California returns to a south-north configuration for 2018, with a start in Long Beach on May 13 and a finish in Sacramento seven days later. The race's Queen stage will feature the Gibraltar Road climb on the second day, organisers revealed today as part of the race's host-city announcement.
The three-day Amgen Tour of California Women's Race will start May 17 and run concurrently with the men's, concluding as it has the previous two years with a stage in Sacramento but shrinking by one day from 2017.
New to the tour are host cities Ventura and King City, while Long Beach and Stockton return to the race after 11 years. South Lake Tahoe will once again host both men's and women's stages, with both events concluding in Sacramento on the same day.
"The 2018 Amgen Tour of California will captivate fans everywhere with all-star pelotons and new routes that showcase the incredible beauty of the Golden State," said Kristin Klein, president of the Amgen Tour of California and executive vice president of AEG Sports, which owns the race. “With a mix of Host Cities that highlight the diversity of California – from urban to remote, ocean to desert, forests to mountains – the race continues its tradition as a dynamic and anticipated event on the international calendar."
The 13th edition of the race will be in its second year on the WorldTour calendar after LottoNL-Jumbo's George Bennett won the inaugural WorldTour edition last year. Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) won the race in 2016 when he took the overall lead on the climb to Gibraltar, a relentless ascent that finishes at more than 1,980 meters above sea level.
As it was in 2017, the women’s general classification will be contested on the high-altitude Queen Stage in South Lake Tahoe, which features one of the biggest climbs in the UCI Women’s WorldTour. In 2017, Boels Dolmans' Anna van der Breggen took the overall win on the final day from Katie Hall (UnitedHetlhacre) by winning a time bonus during the final circuit race in Sacramento.
The men's race will also return to Monterey County for a stage 3 finish at Laguna Seca Raceway, where Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) beat Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) in a sprint finish in 2016. The next day the men will travel to San Jose for an individual time trial. Route details are not yet available for the stage, but the 31.9km San Jose time trial in 2013 featured an uphill finish that gained 300 metres in the final 2.6km. BMC's Tejay van Garderen won the stage that year and claimed the overall win two days later.
Stage 5 of the men's race on May 17 will take riders from Stockton to Elk Grove, where the women's race begins the same day. A stage from Folsom to South Lake Tahoe follows the next day for the men, while the women's second stage starts and finishes in the mountain resort town.
2018 Amgen Tour of California host cities - May 13-19
Stage 1 - Long Beach
Stage 2 - Ventura to Santa Barbara County (Gibraltar Road)
Stage 3 - King City to Monterey County (Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca)
Stage 4 - San Jose (Time Trial)
Stage 5 - Stockton to Elk Grove
Stage 6 - Folsom to South Lake Tahoe
Stage 7 - Sacramento
2018 Amgen Tour of California Women's Race empowered with SRAM host cities - May 17-19
Stage 1 - Elk Grove
Stage 2 - South Lake Tahoe
Stage 3 - Sacramento
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