Once again, Sacramento shows why the city is regarded as one of the most sports-friendly cities in the U.S. This will be the Amgen Tour of California's 9th year in the Golden State Capitol and each year is more thrilling than the last. The 2018 festivities start with the men rolling out of Sacramento across the iconic Tower Bridge into West Sacramento. For the men, this stage is for the sprinters. There are no KOMs and virtually no elevation gain for the day, finishing with three loops around the infamous Capital Circuit. Only an hour after the men start, the women begin their final stage on the circuit. Sacramento has never failed to furnish one of the most exciting race finishes on the World Tour calendar, so let's see who delivers in 2018.
After starting in the shadow of the Capitol building itself, the peloton begins their neutral start parading down the Capitol Mall past a mix of stately government office buildings and progressive business towers. It's not long before they reach the Sacramento River and are making a portage across the historic Tower Bridge. Standing tall in a mustard yellow veil, the bridge serves as the gateway to downtown Sacramento and is one of the city's most iconic features. It opened in November 1935 for trains, cars, and pedestrians. Designed in the Art Deco Streamline Moderne style, it was unique at the time for both its design as much as its appearance. Two towers supported and hid the counterweights and mechanical equipment used to support the center vertical lift. This type of moveable bridge simply raised a portion of the roadway to let boat traffic pass below. It was the first vertical lift bridge in California and certainly the most beautiful. It is also guaranteed to make an excellent photographic backdrop when the peloton crosses the span - twice.
Once on the western bank of the Sacramento River, the Tour traverses the rural roads of Yolo County into Woodland and Winters. This is a legitimate agricultural heartland tour of this famed farm-to-table region. As we've explained on other stages, California's agricultural production is both staggering and surprising. Only five miles outside Winters on Putah Creek Road is Bondolio Olive Oil, another of these model growers. Starting as an almond-turned-olive orchard, Karen and Malcom Bond found a passion for fine Italian olive oil in 2002. After years of research and importing trees from southern Italy, the Bonds started producing a yield in 2009 that has been perfected in the years since. With a goal of producing authentic southern Italian olive oil, Bondolio has become an award-winning staple in California. Make an appointment but be sure to stop by for a taste of Italy in Bondolio's outdoor tasting room or to take a tour of this faithfully recreated and picturesque Italian orchard.
Back in Sacramento, the peloton finishes on three laps of the Capital Circuit. Along the way, they will pass some of the city's best highlights, including some of its famed trendy neighborhoods. Heading north on 18th Street, the race gets intimate with the trendy district of Midtown. This is a more recent addition to the capitol's list of hipster locales, partly due to its proximity to downtown jobs but mostly because of its cultural activities that are just plain hip. With Capitol Park on one end and Sutter's Fort on the other, Midtown is a great place to venture out beyond the touristy spots. For locals, this not even one square mile area is just as known for its historic Victorian and Craftsmen homes as it is for its boutique eateries, bookstores, and coffee shops. What really gets everyone stirring is the monthly Second Saturday Art Walk, an event that truly displays the vibe of Midtown's walkable cultural scene and lifestyle. Try watching the race at the corner of 18th and L Streets from neighborhood standards like Zocalo, 58 Degrees and Holding, or Old Soul Coffee before heading deeper into Midtown for more unique finds.