Tour of California 2016 to include downtown San Diego, Laguna Seca

The organisers of the Amgen Tour of California announced the details of a 2016 route that will favour length over elevation, and which incorporates new areas such as the San Diego city centre and the Laguna Seca Raceway, where racers will traverse the infamous corkscrew on the final circuit.

The opening stage kicks off from the heart of San Diego at Mission Bay, heading through Balboa Park before heading through downtown and out into the eastern part of San Diego county before returning to San Diego for a fast finish. The racers then move up to South Pasadena for a familiar trip through the Angeles National Forest and down to Santa Clarita, taking riders over four mountain sprints. The overall contenders will want to save their legs, because the next day from Thousand Oaks heads straight to a major summit finish.

The 2016 Tour of California eschews previous summit finishes at Mt. Baldy, Mt. Diablo or Big Bear, instead punishing the riders with the Gibraltar Road climb in Santa Barbara County. The ascent is a wickedly hard 9.8km ascent that averages 8%, and should sort out the general classification contenders on stage 3.

215km stands between the peloton in Morro Bay and the stage 4 finish in Monterey County at the Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway, and stage 5 is not any less demanding, with a 213km trip from Lodi to another uphill finish in South Lake Tahoe at an ear-popping 2600m in altitude. Although Gibraltar is the main difficulty in the race, the route punishes riders with a total of almost 20,000m of climbing.

The Folsom individual time trial is followed by the traditional Santa Rosa circuit that takes riders over the Coleman Valley Road climb, and the men's race concludes with an out-and-back loop from Sacramento that ends with the classic high-speed criterium-like finale.

2016 also sees the Tour of California women's race included in the inaugural UCI Women's WorldTour. The women will contest four stages, beginning with a 117km circuit of Lake Tahoe with an uphill finish that coincides with the men's stage 5, a 20.3km time trial in Folsom which coincides with stage 6, a shortened stage 3 Santa Rosa circuit compared of 111km compared with 146km for the men's stage 7, and a 20-lap criterium in Sacramento, whereas the men contest a 136.5km circuit.  

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