Stage 3 of the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered with SRAM is proof that there is no rest for the weary. In fact, this final stage is anything but a tranquil parade to the finish and again puts the women’s peloton on par with the men. Following an unprecedented and harrowing uphill finish to the slopes of Mt. Baldy the day before, this journey from Santa Clarita to Pasadena passes through the rugged San Gabriel Mountains before making a final descent into the City of Roses and a finish at the iconic Rose Bowl. This is the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered with SRAM’s first finish in southern California and Pasadena makes for the perfect backdrop to crown a champion. Yet with a challenging route through the mountains, this stage could shake up the standings just as it could for the men. Overall, this stage is nearly identical to the men’s route with one minor variation in the mountains. Such similarities mean that almost every vantage point is an opportunity to see both races. With a route comprised of seventy-two miles over more than eight thousand feet of climbing and one KOM before plunging down to the San Gabriel Valley, spectators are sure to witness a thriller at the finish.
Starting at Santa Clarita’s Valencia Town Center, Stage 7 begins in earnest with a gradual uphill outing through the community of Valencia before hitting more rural outskirts and coming back to the Santa Clara River. After only fifteen miles, the peloton will have already climbed 1,500 feet. Here the riverbed is dry most of the year. But as the peloton continues to climb towards the river’s headwaters at Acton, the Santa Clara’s riparian environment gets greener even though the surrounding landscape remains a tanned high desert color. As the riders persist on their twenty-seven mile ascent to the pass of Pacifico Mountain, the roars coming from the Shambala Preserve will surely compel them to new heights. Shambala is an exotic cat preserve founded by actress Tippi Hedren to give sanctuary to big cats like lions, tigers, cougars, and leopards. In total, some forty animals make the sanctuary their home and live out their lives in peace and safety. This is a special place that exists for the benefit of the animals alone, but monthly safari tours give the public a unique opportunity to personally witness the majesty of these creatures.
Continuing past Action, the peloton continues to follow the Santa Clara River through Aliso Canyon and into the heart of the San Gabriel Mountains. Another ten miles brings the race to the top of the day’s first KOM at the pass of Pacifico Mountain. This area is consistently under threat of wildfire and the surrounding landscape illustrates this reality. The 2009 Station Fire blazed this area and 250 adjoining square miles. Even the proximity of the 2016 Sand Fire has left many trails closed. Within the confines of the broader mountain chain sits the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, 541 square miles protected by President Obama in 2014. Within easy reach of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, this National Monument is unique for its amazing biodiversity, archaeological and historic sites, and of course Mount Wilson - best known for its forest of antennae and famed observatory. Unlike the men, the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered with SRAM continues on the Angeles Forest Highway to conquer two more minor, albeit critical climbs past Josephine Peak. Before long, they are rewarded with spectacular vistas over Big Tujunga Reservoir 1,000 feet below.
For the racing peloton, much of this scenery will speed by on the twenty-mile finishing descent. Despite a technical mountain drop into the Crescenta Valley and the city of La Cañada Flintridge, any breakaway will have a hard time staying away with such a long and fast circuit awaiting at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl itself is one of the world’s iconic sporting venues. Not only synonymous with the annual Rose Bowl game and home to UCLA Bruin football, the stadium has hosted Super Bowls, the World Cup, Olympics, and electrifying concerts. It carries a historic legacy that began with its construction in 1922 as the work of Master Architect Myron Hunt in a classic horseshoe shape. Over the years its initial seating capacity of 57,000 has been expanded to over 90,000, making it one of the largest stadiums in the nation. Where many champions have been crowned on its field, one more will be named in its shadow - the winner of the 2019 Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered with SRAM.