Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Todd Hofert
Women’s cycling continues to gain momentum in 2015 following announcements from sponsors of several men’s events to continue or expand their support of women’s racing. The 10th Anniversary edition of The Amgen Tour of California fits in the latter category as the Women’s race will grow from what has historically been a single stage into a four-day event, making it North America’s biggest stage race for women. Fourteen teams will take to the California byways May 8 – May 15 in what is sure to be an exciting event for fans, spectators, and the riders.
The first three days, May 8, 9 and 10, will make up a stage race that precedes the start of the men’s Tour of California that starts on Sunday, May 10. The fourth day is an Invitational Time Trial that will precede the men’s time trial on Sunday, May 15th.
Amgen Tour of California 2015 Women’s Race Stage 1
Starting in South Lake Tahoe on Friday, May 8, the Women will contest three stages over three days. Friday’s stage starts and ends at the Heavenly Mountain Resort high above South Lake Tahoe. The 74-mile route will follow the perimeter of Lake Tahoe in a clockwise direction and includes two QOM’s, winding mountain descents and all of the stunning scenery that surrounds Lake Tahoe. The finale, not for the faint of heart, culminates on the brutal climb up the 15 percent grades of Keller Street back to Heavenly. Look for teams vying to set-up their team captain on the run into the base of the climb where fireworks are sure to ensue.
Day: Friday, May 8, 2015
Start: 11:00 AM
Estimated finish: 2:00 PM
Overall Stage Start/Finish: South Lake Tahoe / Heavenly Mountain Resort
Festival: 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Miles: 74.5 mi
Kilometers: 120 km
Elevation Gain: 5,300 ft
Amgen Tour of California 2015 Women’s Race Stage 2
Stage 2 also claims Heavenly Mountain Resort as home where the race will again start and finish. The 25-mile circuit that makes up Stage 2 winds its way into the beautiful canyons and forests that surround Lake Tahoe. Traversing the course twice will provide several opportunities for spectators to see the race pass.
After reaching the far end of the circuit on Highway 89, the race heads back to Heavenly on a demanding path that includes the QOM on Apache Avenue followed quickly by the climb back up to Heavenly on Ski Run Boulevard to the finish line. The elevation and the lumpy profile of the first two days will make for some tough racing and the women who emerge wearing leaders jerseys will have earned them.
Day: Saturday, May 9, 2015
Start: 10:30 AM
Estimated finish: 12:30 PM
Stage Start/Finish: South Lake Tahoe / Heavenly Mountain Resort
Festival: 10:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Miles: 49.7 mi
Kilometers: 80 km
Elevation Gain: 3,300 ft
Amgen Tour of California 2015 Women’s Race Stage 3
After two days of difficult climbing comprised of nearly 9,000’ of elevation gain, the race heads for the lower and flatter grounds of Sacramento for Stage 3. The flat and fast 2-mile circuit through the streets of Sacramento is the familiar circuit seen in the men’s race over the years and is designed with the sprinters in mind.
The women’s race will make 17 laps of the course with time bonuses available throughout, giving a break or an eager sprinter an opportunity to move up the overall standings. The men’s race will hit the same circuit later in the day after the women’s race has been decided and podiums presented. Plan on spending your day watching all of the women’s and men’s action.
Day: Sunday, May 10, 2015
Start time: 11:15 AM
Circuit Race: Sacramento
Miles: 34 mi
Kilometers: 54.7 km
Ale Cipollini, BMW p/b Happy Tooth Dental, Canada National Team, Colavita | Bianchi p/b Fine Cooking, Mexico National Team, Itaú Shimano Ladies Power Team, Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, Pearl Izumi – Sports Tours International, Pepper Palace Pro Cycling p/b The Happy Tooth, Team Tibco – SVB, Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, Velocio – SRAM and Xirayas de San Luis.
Amgen Tour of California 2015 Women’s Race ITT
With the Stage Race decided following Sunday’s Stage 3 in Sacramento, a handful of ladies will head south to Big Bear Lake where they will contest a separate Invitational Time Trial on Sunday May 15th coinciding with the men’s ITT later that same day. Twenty-three women from seven countries will assemble in Big Bear for a throw down amongst the sports best female athletes.
The talent rich field is headlined by the reigning individual and team time trial world champion Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) of Germany. Two-time Tour of California TT winner and Olympic champion Kristin Armstrong (Twenty16-Sho-Air) will also be on hand despite her ‘retired’ status. Other notables joining Brennauer and Armstrong are Amber Neben (Visit Dallas Cycling) (USA), Evelyn Stevens (Boels Dolmans) (USA), Alison Tetrick (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) (USA) and Tayler Wiles (Velocio-SRAM) (USA).
Women’s Invitational Time Trial start list
Maria Carla Alvarez (Xirayas de San Luis) (Arg)
Kristin Armstrong (Twenty16-Sho-Air) (USA)
Maddie Boutet (USA Cycling) (USA)
Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) (G)
Laura Brown (UnitedHealthcare) (Can)
Karol Ann Canuel (Velocio-SRAM) (Can)
Ana Teresa Casa (Mexico National Team) (Mex)
Jackie Crowell (Breakaway from Cancer) (USA)
Allie Dragoo (Twenty16-Sho-Air) (USA)
Jasmin Glaesser (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) (Can)
Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans) (USA)
Amber Neben (Visit Dallas Cycling) (USA)
Rhae Shaw (BMW-Happy Tooth Dental) (Can)
Carmen Small (Twenty16-Sho-Air) (USA)
Lauren Stephens (TeamTIBCO-SVB) (USA)
Evelyn Stevens (Boels Dolmans) (USA)
Sarah Storey (Pearl Izumi Sports) (GB)
Alison Tetrick (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) (USA)
Anika Todd (TeamTIBCO-SVB) (Can)
Linda Villumsen (UnitedHealthcare) (NZ)
Emma White (USA Cycling) (USA)
Tara Whitten (Canada National) (CAN)
Tayler Wiles (Velocio-SRAM) (USA)
Day: Friday, May 15, 2015
Women’s Start Time: 11:00 AM
Time Trial: Big Bear Lake
Miles: 15.1 mi
Kilometers: 24.2 km
Elevation Gain: 750 ft
The AToC is certain to provide ten days of great bike racing with the women’s stage race May 8-10, offering a great prelude to the men’s action and then rounding out their racing with the Invitational Time Trial on May 15. Don’t miss it. Slather on your sunscreen, grab your favorite elk horns and hit the roadside or follow the action on TourTracker!