AEG, organizers of the Tour of California, kept its promise of expanding the events it offers to the women’s peloton by adding a new three-day stage race that will go along with its already existing individual time trial, for a total of four days of racing next May.
The Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race p/b SRAM is set to start in South Lake Tahoe on May 8 and conclude in Sacramento on May 10, followed by an individual time trial in Big Bear Lake on May 15.
The first two stages will be held in South Lake Tahoe and the stage 3 finale in Sacramento, which will be held in conjunction with the start of the professional men’s race.
“We thought it was a fantastic opportunity to incorporate Tahoe and essentially all the stars aligned,” Kristin Bachochin, executive director of the race and senior vice president of AEG Sports, said in an interview with Cyclingnews. “It is close to Sacramento so we had an opportunity to incorporate them two days before the men’s start.”
The invitation-only individual time trial is expected to include roughly 20 of the top domestic and international time triallists. It will be held at Big Bear Lake, which has been a host city for the men’s stage race in the past. It has also been the location for the individual time trial stage of the Redlands Bicycle Classic, a 12.5km route that took place along the lake's north shore.
“The time trial is an invitation event only and we are going to keep that race, typically inviting the top 15 or 20 time triallists,” Bachochin said. “We are going to keep that event intact because it has worked very well for us.
“We love the fact that the overall dynamic this year for our time trial was Big Bear Lake because it’s between the mountain and the lake, and it’s at altitude. It’s going to be very competitive and beautiful all at the same time. The women’s race will be held right before the men’s stage.”
The stage details for both the multi-day women’s race and the individual time trial are in the works, and will be announced at a later date. “We are planning course details in the next couple of months and then we will announce all of the route details for both the men and the women,” Bachochin said.
The Tour of California began hosting an event for women with a criterium from 2008 to 2010 and replaced it with the individual time trial held from 2011 to 2013. Last year, AEG hosted a circuit race in Sacramento and an individual time trial in Folsom. The number of race days has now doubled to four with the first-time stage race and time trial, something that Bachochin believes contributes to the overall growth of women’s cycling.
“Every year we are striving to make this race bigger and better, and we are taking advantage of the Amgen Tour of California platform,” Bachochin said. “In the past few years we have doubled the amount of days. We had a couple of years at one day, we expanded to two days last year and this year we will have an unprecedented four days of women’s racing.”
Bachochin did not confirm whether or not the new stage race and the individual time trial had a multi-year commitment but she did say that AEG would continue to support women’s racing.
The Tour of California Women’s Race is one of several new women's events expected to be on the calendar next year. Others include the USA Pro Challenge that added a multi-day event and the Vuelta a España that recently announced it will host a one-day women's race, all announced after the success of this year’s inaugural La Course by Le Tour de France, which was held along the Champs-Élysées prior to the final stage of the Tour de France.
“I think that it’s fantastic that we continue to make an investment and continue to increase our investment but I think it’s also wonderful to see that there are other races catching on and supporting women’s racing as well,” Bachochin said.
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