The 'Grade' set to shake up GC in 2018 Tour of California Women's Race

The Amgen Tour of California Women's Race empowered with SRAM will return to its familiar haunts in 2018, with a start in the City of Elk Grove, a Queen stage in the mountains around South Lake Tahoe and a finish on the traditional fast, flat circuit in downtown Sacramento.

The formula made for an exciting finish last year, when UnitedHealthcare's Katie Hall took the overall lead during the Queen stage to Tahoe, but then lost the overall victory by one second after Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) claimed a two-second time bonus during an intermediate sprint on the final day in the state capitol.

"We have such an exciting mix of courses, cities and world-class athletes coming together for the 2018 Amgen Tour of California men's and women's races," said Kristin Klein, president of the Amgen Tour of California and executive vice president of AEG Sports. "Sports fans – and California fans – everywhere can start counting down the days for a can't-miss pairing of the best in sports and the best of the west."

The Amgen Tour of California Women's Race, which is the 11th race on the 2018 UCI Women's WorldTour, will start May 17 in Elk Grove and conclude May 19 in Sacramento. The race runs concurrently with the men's, which starts May 13 in Long Beach and concludes May 19 in Sacramento.

As with any of the race stages, routes are subject to change due road damage, especially with California's recent wildfires.

Stage 1: Elk Grove to Elk Grove - 123.5km

The women's race opens with the longest stage at 123.5km. Beginning and ending in front of the new Elk Grove Aquatic Center and Commons on Civic Center Drive, the race heads west then south to the Sacramento River and the California Delta region. The stage features two intermediate sprints and no QOM climbs, and is a very fast and flat route that should guarantee a day for the sprinters back in Elk Grove. Soon after, the finish of the men’s fifth stage, which started in Stockton, will come down Civic Center Drive.

Stage 2: South Lake Tahoe - 108km

Much like 2017, when Katie Hall (UnitedHeathcare) took the lead on the Queen stage but then lost it by a time bonus sprint to Anna and der Breggen (Boels Dolmans), the 2018 overall race will take shape on the high-altitude Queen stage in South Lake Tahoe, which organisers say features one of the biggest climbs in the UCI Women's WorldTour.

The stage will head west from Heavenly Mountain Resort then turn south on CA-89 and over the 2,360-metre summit of Luther Pass, where they will contest the first of the day's three QOMs. A quick descent into the Carson River Basin leads to a loop through the Washoe Reservation before heading northeast into Nevada.

A left turn will take the peloton north on Kingsbury Grade. The 'Grade' was first introduced to the Amgen Tour of California in 2017. This 12.8km climb gains 823 metres in elevation, with riders encountering the second QOM at an elevation of 2,225 metres. The peloton will descend back to South Lake Tahoe for the final QOM of the stage and the finish at Heavenly Mountain Resort.

Stage 3: Sacramento Circuit Race - 70km

The peloton will compete on this flat and fast 3.5km course in downtown Sacramento for 90 minutes, circling the state capitol on the same circuit where the men's final road stage will finish hours later.

The course features six turns and encompasses the State Capitol Building and passes several other notable state government buildings. The race begins shortly after the departure of the men's stage 7. Both races will crown their overall champions following stage conclusions.


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