Organizers of the 12th annual Amgen Tour of California bicycle race announced the full route on Jan. 28.
The 2016 race will run 782.7 miles from San Diego to Sacramento from May 15 to May 22. This year will also be just the second time out of 11 previous races that the route runs south to north. The race typically attracts thousands of tourists to the region.
Stage 3 will be a challenging 104.1-mile day run from Thousand Oaks to Santa Barbara on May 17. A tough uphill finish on Gibraltar Road in Santa Barbara will greet the riders’ weary legs. It will mark the first mountain finish of a stage in the race’s history. Organizers said improved road conditions made the finish on Gibraltar Road possible, which will pose a steep average 8 percent grade.
Stage 4 will feature a 133.6-mile run from Morro Bay to Monterey County along the Pacific Coast Highway. Riders will roll out of Morro Bay past scenic Morro Rock and then head north to a finish at Laguna Seca Raceway near Salinas.
Since its creation, the Tour of California has gained a reputation as one of the best cycling events in the world outside of cycling’s three premier races, the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana. The Tour of California takes place during the first of those events, Giro d’Itialia, though.
At an October news conference, retired professional cyclist Fred Rodriguez said the race has lived up to its reputation.
“As athletes we enjoy this event. It’s actually one of the highlights of the year,” he said. “When you go into Santa Barbara they’re not long climbs, but it’s hilly and it’s fast. Santa Barbara has always been a beautiful city to start from, so to finish there it’s going to be gorgeous.”
Bradley Wiggins, the 2014 Tour of California winner, will return this year. No additional teams or riders were announced Thursday but officials said they were in negotiations with Peter Sagan, the defending champ and reigning world road champion.
-Contact Philip Joens at [email protected]