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2018 Tour of California route hinges on Gibraltar and Morgan Hill TT

Riders hunting for overall glory in the 2018 Tour of California will be circling two days on their calendars: stage 2, which finishes atop Gibraltar Road, and stage 4, a new individual time trial route near San Jose.

The Amgen Tour of California’s 1,038-kilometer (645-mile) route will run south to north from May 13-19 and will attract such stars as Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), and Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin). It will be the event’s second year as a men’s WorldTour race.

Those three sprinters — and other speedsters — will have plenty to look forward to in the 2018 route. Stages 1, 5, and 7 all are anticipated to feature bunch sprint finishes.

Sagan, who has won 16 Tour of California stages (a race record), could also cherry-pick a win in stage 3. It finishes at Laguna Seca after 197km. Sagan won stage 4 in 2016, which also finished at the famous motorsports racetrack.

“The race is one of my favorite competitions every year — always challenging competition and such beautiful scenery — and I’m excited to return and try for more stage wins this year,” said Sagan.

When it comes to climbing days, GC riders will clearly be focused on stage 2 and its mountaintop finish. Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) won on this 3,100-foot climb in 2016, moving into the overall lead. He went on to win the overall that year. However, stage 6 might also pose a challenge with 16,000 feet of climbing in total over 196.5km. That stage will also finish at high altitude — 8,600 feet above sea level in South Lake Tahoe.

As is usually the case, the Tour of California shouldn’t be a pure climber’s race. Stage 4’s individual time trial is 34.7km. Though it features a climb that the organizers characterize as moderate, anyone seeking a high GC placing will need to be comfortable on their TT bike.

2018 Tour of California route

May 13: Stage 1 – Long Beach circuit, 133km
May 14: Stage 2 – Ventura to Gibraltar Road, 155km
May 15: Stage 3 – King City to Laguna Seca, 197km
May 16: Stage 4 – San Jose/Morgan Hill individual time trial, 34.7km
May 17: Stage 5 – Stockton to Elk Grove, 176km
May 18: Stage 6 – Folsom to South Lake Tahoe, 196.5km
May 19: Stage 7 – Sacramento, 146km

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