It’s just over two weeks until the start of the second Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered with SRAM, which is part of the inaugural UCI Women’s WorldTour. For lay people, that means the best women’s teams and most accomplished riders in the world will gather in the Golden State May 19-22 to put on a thrilling four-stage cycling spectacle not to be missed.
Last week, I received an inquiry from a loyal reader asking when the teams will be announced for the eleventh edition of the Amgen Tour of California. Since the teams were revealed at the beginning of last month, the question made me think that this column should review the 18 professional men’s squads comprised of World, National and Grand Tour champions that made selection for the nearly 800-mile, 8-day stage race starting May 15 for the first time in San Diego on a south-to-north trek through the Golden State.
In addition to showcasing world and national champions, Olympic medalists and Grand Tour stage winners, the Amgen Tour of California also provides a platform for developing professionals to breakthrough to the next level. Two riders who made strong impressions during the 10th anniversary edition of America’s Greatest Race, Toms Skujiņš and Logan Owen, are in the spotlight this week.
The dust from the famed cobblestones has barely settled from this season’s third monument, Paris-Roubaix, and we turn our attention to the Spring Classics for the GC riders, three hilly one-day races known as the Ardennes Classics. Last year, a young French unknown, Ettix-Quick-Step’s Julian Alaphilippe, emerged and impressed with a pair of surprising second place finishes, which proved to be a harbinger for an overall runner-up result at the tenth anniversary Amgen Tour of California.
When Peter Sagan arrived in Sacramento last May, the weight on his shoulders was mighty. Pressured publically in the press by his Tinkoff team owner to earn his multimillion dollar salary with wins, the Slovak came correct using a powerful time trial triumph at Magic Mountain followed by an inspired climb to the summit of Mount Baldy to capture overall victory at the tenth anniversary Amgen Tour of California. Since that breakthrough, Sagan is arguably having the best year of any cyclist in the international peloton. His magic carpet ride continued Sunday when he won his first monument, Ronde van Vlaanderen, in cycling mad Belgium to assure his storied place in cycling lore.