This is going to take some getting used to: The 2013 Amgen Tour of California is routed from Escondido to Santa Rosa — south to north — when it rolls out from May 12 to 19.
Hard lessons along the Pacific Coast many years ago taught me that north to south is the preferred direction of travel by bicycle in California due to the prevailing winds. The peloton could battle those headwinds on the coast, particularly on Stage 5.
Here’s the breakdown for the 8th edition of the bike race announced on Tuesday (see map). Detailed route information can be expected in the future:
- Stage 1: Sunday, May 12 – Escondido
- Stage 2: Monday, May 13 – Murrieta to Greater Palm Springs
- Stage 3: Tuesday, May 14 – Palmdale to Santa Clarita
- Stage 4: Wednesday, May 15 – Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara
- Stage 5: Thursday, May 16 – Santa Barbara to Avila Beach
- Stage 6: Friday, May 17 – San Jose (Individual Time Trial)
- Stage 7: Saturday, May 18 – Livermore to Mt. Diablo
- Stage 8: Sunday, May 19 – San Francisco to Santa Rosa
Oddly, it appears that the cyclists will avoid the Sierra Nevada this year.
Tour organizers cited the draw of Sierras as a reason to shift the race from late winter to the spring after the snow has melted in the passes. The result has been two major bike races scheduled simultaneously in May — the Tour of California and the Giro d’Italia.
And although the organizers tout the amazing ocean views, the coastline along Big Sur appears to be absent this year as well.
Stage by stage
According to a press release, the Stage 1 begins and ends in Escondido. The peloton heads across the desert for Stage 2 between Murrieta and greater Palm Springs.
Stage 3 starts in Palmdale thne heads west, away from the mountains, to Santa Clarita. That town is also the beginning of Stage 4, which heads north along the coast to Santa Barbara.
After an overnight in Santa Barbara, the bike racers will head north again to Avila Beach for Stage 5. Stage 6 in San Jose is the individual time trial. The race returns to Livermore for Stage 7 as cyclists head north for an “intense” mountain top finish on Mount Diablo for the second year in a row. The prominent East Bay mountain rises 3,280 feet in about 11 miles; the amateur winners of the annual Mt. Diablo Challenge can handle it in 45 minutes.
The final day of racing, Stage 8, follows a route from San Francisco to Santa Rosa.