This week, we finally got a look at the challenging route for the 2016 Amgen Tour of California, which was revealed at a media event presented by Visit California. From top to bottom – actually that should be from bottom to top since for only the second time ever, the race will travel south to north – the courses for the May 15-22 event will showcase California’s breathtaking beauty while taking the breath of the world’s most accomplished cyclists in a stage race that could be described as long and tall. The route for the eleventh edition of America’s Greatest Race is one of the longest in race history at nearly 800 miles and one of the tallest with almost 65,000 feet of climbing.
It was a flat out drag race to the finish line atop Metcalf Road in San Jose during Stage 3 of the tenth Amgen Tour of California and it was neck and neck. Fan favorite Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and upstart Julian Alaphilippe (Ettix-Quick-Step) clashed for the runner-up spot after Hincapie Racing’s Toms Skujins rode off with the day’s top prize. Trading a series of jabs and body blows, Sagan, who has the record for stage wins at America’s Greatest Race, barely edged out the 22-year-old Frenchman riding for the first time in California. That mad dash to the finish presaged the ultimate result in the GC battle that would unfold in the shadow of the iconic Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Stage 8. One could argue that Sagan won the Amgen Tour that sunny Tuesday afternoon. Standing 50 meters past the line, I watched Alaphilippe take his left hand off his bars to pat the speedy Slovak on the back in an offer of congratulations. It was a classy sporting gesture of respect from the second-year pro who in his breakout season was the breakthrough rider of this year’s Amgen Tour of California.
What an extraordinary week it was, the tenth edition of the Amgen Tour of California. Like the inaugural Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered by SRAM won by pint-sized Trixi Worrack (Velocio-SRAM), the yellow jersey changed hands on the final day with the aid of time bonuses in a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat sprint showdown that crowned Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) the new King of California by a scant three-second margin over 22-year-old French phenom Julian Alaphilippe (Ettix-Quick-Step).
It was podium time last Sunday for four Amgen Tour of California standouts. Sir Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma Quick-Step), John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) and Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) made their presences felt on the final day of stage races in Britain and Spain.
This year’s Amgen Tour of California was bookended by electrifying 1-2 finishes by fastmen Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma Quick-Step) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano). On Tuesday in two different stage races taking place in two different countries, both sprinters posted up to celebrate victory and amazingly they managed to repeat the feat Wednesday. What are the odds of that?!?!?
It was the final day of the 2014 Amgen Tour of California and I wanted to pull off something big for The Insider. Thanks to Melinda and Fitzalan, the PR pros handling Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first professional cycling team on which every athlete has Type 1 diabetes, I went on the ride of my life on Sunday in Thousand Oaks on the Stage 8 circuit.