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

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Peter Stetina led Lachlan Morton and Neilson Powless on the 8% grade of Gibraltar near the summit in the 2016 Tour of California. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

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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