The 2019 Amgen Tour of California will start in Sacramento with a day for the sprinters and end a week later in Pasadena in the shadow of the Rose Bowl. Race owners AEG today unveiled route details for the men's and women's WorldTour races, which start on May 12 with the men in Sacramento. The women's race starts three days later in Ventura on May 16, and both races conclude Sunday, May 18, with a lap around Pasadena's iconic Rose Bowl.
This year will mark several firsts for the women's race, which will run concurrently with the final three men's stages and share similar courses and the same finishes. The women's race will skip Lake Tahoe and instead take on Mt. Baldy for the first time during their second stage on May 17.
"The 2019 race course is incredibly demanding - there's more climbing and more long road days than ever before," said Kristin Klein, president of the Amgen Tour of California and executive vice president of AEG Sports. "With the best of the best in cycling coming to California to contest it, we are in for another memorable race."
New heights for men's race
The 14th edition of the men's race will feature more than 20,725 metres of climbing over 1,251 kilometres. The seven-stage race will visit 13 host cities, contesting 14 sprints and a race-record 25 KOMs along the way. More than half of the stages are longer than 190km.
The north-south orientation is a familiar one for the race, and the flat stage in Sacramento to get things rolling with a field sprint should provide a proper opening for the race. The 142.9km stage hugs the Sacramento River, includes just 61metres of elevation gain and finishes on the same Sacramento circuit that has hosted the race finale numerous times.
If stage 1 is a good warm-up for the legs, stage 2 will have them downright sizzling. The 193.9km route from Rancho Cordova to South Lake Tahoe includes six KOMs and nearly 4,500 metres of climbing. Riders from 2018 will remember the majority of this stage, which saw Egan Bernal (Team Sky) take the overall lead and never look back.
The route will follow White Rock Road through El Dorado Hills. The race will go through Placerville before heading onto the Mormon Emigrant Trail and Hwy 88. The KOM at Carson Pass tops out at 2,627 metres, the highest point the race has ever reached. Next up is Luther Pass and then the finish in South Lake Tahoe.
The sprinters will be front and centre for stage 3, a 207km route from Stockton to Morgan Hill, home of Specialized. Although a field sprint is expected, the speedster will need to get over nearly 3,050 metres of climbing as the stage takes on Mt. Hamilton and the rolling hills outside of San Jose.
Over 22 miles near the middle of the course, the peloton will encounter two climbs with a total of 25 switchbacks and two very technical descents with another 25 hairpin turns. The race will then return to the eastern slopes of San Jose and into the finish on Morgan Hill near the Outdoor Sports Center.
Stage 4 will be a long, scenic jaunt down the Southern California coast from Raceway Laguna Seca to Morro Bay. The 221.8km route. But don't be lulled asleep by the warm ocean breeze. The stage includes more than 3580 metres of elevation gain, including three KOMs and a sprint in San Simeon. After a short climb out of the start at the famous Laguna Seca racetrack, the race will pass through Seaside, Monterey and Carmel on the way to scenic California Highway 1 and an expected sprint finish on Harbor Street in Morro Bay.
The 217.9km fifth stage from Pismo Beach to Ventura has five KOMs and 2,950 metres of elevation gain on climbs like San Marcos Pass and Casitas Pass. The stage includes a long descent in Santa Barbara, and, once in Ventura, the riders will contest the final sprint up of a short 12 per cent climb on Fero Drive. This stage will highlight the best of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
The Queen stage for both men and women comes on the penultimate day with 127km from Ontario to Mt. Baldy. Featured in the race in 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2017, the climb outside of Los Angeles often decides the overall when it's included in the race and, with no time trial in 2019, that could very well be the case this year.
From Ontario, stage 6 will head north into the cities of Rancho Cucamonga and Upland before the peloton starts a 17.6km climb to the Village of Mt. Baldy. From there the race turns onto Glendora Ridge Road for the first of three KOMs and then a twisting descent down the backside of Glendora Mountain Road. A return to Glendora Mountain Road leads to the 14km climb to the second KOM of the day, followed by 20km of a slight climb back to Mt. Baldy Village. From there, it's back onto Mt. Baldy Road for the death march to the top, which will throw 15 switchbacks and grades of 15 per cent at the riders.
After the trek up Mt. Baldy, the final stage from Santa Clarita to Pasadena might seem like a relative day off, but the 141km route includes two more KOMS and 2,592 metres of elevation gain. The stage will start in Santa Clarita's Town Center Mall, a familiar venue for the race, before heading north through the Antelope Valley and eventually onto the Angeles Forest Highway and into the Angeles National Forest. Climbs of Mill Creek Summit and Upper Big Tujunga close out the KOM competition. The stage and overall race will close out with three laps around the Rose Bowl, where Peter Sagan stole overall victory in 2015 from Julian Alaphilippe by scoring a time bonus in the final sprint.
Nearly 6,340 metres of climbing for women's race
The Amgen Tour of California Women's Race, which runs three days from May 16-18, marks the 11th round of the Women's WorldTour and will include 6,340 metres of climbing across 283km of racing.
The women's route will include eight Queen of the Mountain climbs, including the first-time addition of the Mt. Baldy, one of the iconic climbs used in four previous editions of the men's race. AEG announced the inclusion of Mt. Baldy to the 2019 women's race in December.
In an interview with Cyclingnews, defending champion Katie Hall applauded the addition of Mt. Baldy, saying, "I love a good mountaintop finish." However, Hall signed with the powerful Dutch team Boels Dolmans for the 2019 season and could not confirm whether she would be participating in the event this year.
The Tour of California Women's Race will coincide with the final three days of the men's seven-day race. The women will begin on May 16 with a 96km punchy opening stage in Ventura. The stage will include an elevation gain of 1,490 metres over five QOMs, along with an intermediate sprint. The final 56km will follow the same route planned for the men's stage 5, with an expected sprint finish in Ventura.
Stage 2 marks the Queen stage of the Tour of California Women's Race, with a summit finish atop Mt. Baldy. The women will race a short-but-challenging 73.9km route that starts in Ontario at the Citizens Bank Arena. It includes two QOMs with an elevation gain of 2,565 metres. There is one intermediate sprint in Glendora.
The women and men will share sections of the out-and-back route, and so organisers have altered the women’s course but will follow the same final 32.8km, which includes a 14km climb up Glendora Mountain Road to the QOM line.
The route will then follow 19km to Mt. Baldy Village and take a left turn onto Mt. Baldy Road, according to the organisation's press release. At Ice House Canyon, the route will make a hard left turn where the peloton will see signs toward the ski area. Over the next 4km, the riders will face 10 switchbacks. With just under two kilometres to go, the road will straighten out but still climb at 15 per cent, and after a hard left turn, the last half a kilometre will include the final five switchbacks to the finish line.
The women's race will conclude following stage 3's 115km race from Santa Clarita to Pasadena. There will be one QOM on the course, a sprint in Acton, and an elevation gain of 2,286 metres.
The race will start at the Town Center Mall in Santa Clarita. The route will then turn north out of the city on Soledad Canyon Road, through the Antelope Valley, to the first sprint of the day in Acton. Turing onto Aliso Canyon Road, the riders will work their way onto Angeles Forest Hwy and to Angeles Crest Highway, and then drop down into Pasadena to complete one lap of the finishing circuit for an expected field sprint at the Rose Bowl.
Cyclingnews is proud to introduce the first episode of our Cyclingnews Podcast Women's Edition, brought to you by Sportful, Pinarello and Floyd's of Leadville.
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