Short, 6.6-mile time trial set for Amgen Tour at Six Flags

A short, flat individual test may have little affect on race GC and offer an opportunity for a specialist speedster to claim a stage win

The Amgen Tour of California’s stage 6 Big Bear Lake time trial has been scrapped due to impending inclement weather. Both the men’s and women’s tests have been moved to Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita and will run on a course that’s drastically shorter than the original 15-mile route.

Riders will roll out of Six Flags onto a 6.6-mile, out-and-back course, far flatter and about half the length of the Big Bear Lake course that had been planned. The move to Santa Clarita also means the race will no longer take place at altitude. Time gaps will be slim, likely just a few seconds between the top riders.

“I think other sports have handled this in an incredible manner,” said Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick-Step), “very professionally, they took into consideration the riders, and came to a reasonable decision, a fair decision, keeps the race going, looks after best interest of riders, want to say thank you and that we welcome the decision.”

The tighter gaps expected for Friday’s time trial place additional focus on the race’s queen stage on Saturday, which finishes atop the Mount Baldy climb.

“Everything about this course is primed to deliver fast, exciting racing,” said race director Jim Birrell. “This is the day when the riders will be trying their best to shore up their positions, and where every second matters. On this fairly short course, the result is really anyone’s guess because there is room for a specialty rider to take the cake from the big hitters in the general classification. Either way, we anticipate a very aggressive attempt for the win.”

Toms Skujins (Hincapie Racing) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) are currently separated by 22 seconds in first and second place on GC, respectively. The gap between the top two in the best young rider category is just three seconds, with Etixx-Quick-Step’s Julian Alaphilippe leading Hincapie Racing’s Dion Smith.

“[It] will help me that the race won’t be at altitude, it will still be a race tomorrow, I will have to try as hard as I can,” Skujins said.

“This ability to relocate Friday’s time trial would never have happened had it not been for the incredible cooperation of agencies and organizations such as the County of Los Angeles, CalTrans, the California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles County Sheriff, and the cities of Santa Clarita and Valencia, and Six Flags Magic Mountain,” said Kristin Bachochin Klein, executive director of the Tour of California.

Neal Rogers contributed to this report from Santa Clarita.