A difficult stage 2 around the mountains of South Lake Tahoe will be the decisive day of the 2018 women’s Tour of California.
Race organizers confirmed the route for the three-day Women’s WorldTour race, formally known as the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered with SRAM. With flat finishes in stages 1 and 3, the overall winner will have to survive three categorized climbs on day two of the 300-kilometer (187-mile) race, May 17-19.
The race begins in Elk Grove, where stage 3 of the 2017 race started. Heading south toward the Sacramento River, organizers are calling for a bunch sprint at the end of the 123.5km stage. Along the way, there will be two bonus sprints but no categorized climbs.
Climbers will aim to stay out of trouble on stage 1 because stage 2 will be decisive. It is essentially the same 108km route as stage 2 of the 2017 women’s Tour of California. That day, Katie Hall (UnitedHealthcare) won the stage and took the overall lead. She dueled with Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) and ended up with a slim three-second lead in the overall.
The stage’s three key climbs are CA-89, which tops out at 7,740 feet; Kingsbury Grade (Daggett Summit), reaching 7,400 feet; and then the final climb to the finish at Heavenly Resort.
Stage 3 finishes the tour with a familiar circuit around Sacramento. The field will race 70km on the flat 3.5km route.
However, the final stage does not lack opportunities. In 2017, van der Breggen overcame a one-second deficit to Hall. The Dutchwoman won the overall by sprinting for bonus time and collecting two seconds over the course of the race.
2018 Women’s Amgen Tour of California route
May 17: Stage 1 – Elk Grove, 123.5km
May 18: Stage 2 – South Lake Tahoe, 108km
May 19: Stage 3 – Sacramento circuit, 70km