So for those of you who missed my award winning 2012 ToC route analysis (here), our generous friends over at AEG and Amgen have released more details and given me another excuse to
blather on pointlessly continue my crack analysis of the "greatest stage race the world has ever known being held in the greatest place on earth, ever"*, the Tour of California!
Now in order to write this properly, for the proper ambiance, it was necessary for me to pack my bags and move to Beverly... Hills that is... you know, that place with the swimming pools and the movie stars? Here's some video to help you orient yourself. Go on, I'll wait....
And since you all know how seriously I take my responsibility to really cover the story right, and also because Chris lent me the Cafe charge card (wOOt Chris!), I was able to come correct and rent one of these, and get one of these, and also there was this (don't judge me). Also, I'm working on a screenplay about a hooker with a heart of gold who meets an unhappy rich business man who needs a date for some business meetings, etc. and I'm having trouble with the ending. She either gets killed by evil drug dealers, or the rich guy marries her. The first seems more realistic but the second seems more box office. Hmm, decisions...
Wait, where was I? Oh, the race details! Sorry. Grab some snacks and join me after the jump...
First, the raw facts...
Stage 1: Sun, May 13 – Santa Rosa to Santa Rosa - 115.9 miles
Stage 2: Mon, May 14 – San Francisco to Aptos - 117.1 miles
Stage 3: Tue, May 15 – San Jose to Livermore - 115.3 miles
Stage 4: Wed, May 16 – Sonora to Clovis - 130.2 miles
Stage 5: Thu, May 17 – Bakersfield ITT - 18.4 miles
Stage 6: Fri, May 18 – Palmdale to Big Bear Lake - 115.7 miles
Stage 7: Sat, May 19 – Ontario to Mt. Baldy - 78.3 miles
Stage 8: Sun, May 20 – Beverly Hills to L.A. LIVE - 44.7 miles
Now the verbiage...
Stage 1 - Santa Rosa squared. The highlight this year is that they are heading up north to the coastal mountains of Sonoma County, along King's RIdge, which is about as gorgeous a place to ride as there is in all the land. Narrow roads and some climbyness will guarantee the break stays away till the bitter end, or maybe not if there is no break. Regardless, it will be a good starter stage. If you go there to watch, do not go to the Russian River Brewing Company. Their beer is too good for you and it will be too crowded and you might end up getting my seat at the bar. Don't be selfish.
Prediction: It will be a bunch sprint which Levi will not win.
Stage 2 - San Francisco to Aptos. Looks like they took my advice and decided to start someplace scenic and San Francisco-ey, the Marina Green, which is the stretch of land right along the bay with the scenic backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge at one end, Alcatraz at the other end, and Marin county all across the rest. Gorgeous. Also, Aptos is lovely. Home to lots of hippies with money. The route itself runs down the coast with the last third or so heading up into the Santa Cruz mountain for some substantial climbing followed by a long downhill finish. This stage has proven decisive in past ToCs, and indecisive in others, so precedence says that it will either be decisive or not.
Prediction: If the weather sucks, look for attacks on the climbs. If the weather is good, look for attacks on the climbs.
Stage 3 - San Jose to Livermore. This one starts right at the bottom of the Sierra Road climb but does not actually go up the Sierra Road climb. Uh, OK (headscratch, headscratch)... Anyways, they do get around to climbing Mount Diablo midway through the stage, which is a big lumbering lump of dirt over in the Eastern East Bay, which I have never ridden but which, apparently, has excellent views of the surrounding dirt hills. Or so I am told. The finish is in Livermore, which happens to be Drew's second favorite city in the Livermore Valley, and is also home to a lightbulb that is located in the local fire station which has been burning continuously since 1901. I shit you not. Not sure about you but I'm lucky if I can get six months out of a fucking lightbulb. Who's with me? Nobody? So if you go there for this stage, hands off the light bulb unless you plan to steal it for me. No questions asked.
Prediction: All the climbing is early so I predict an Australian sprinter will win this one. If not an Aussie, then definitely a Kiwi or else a Passion Fruit (Frenchman).
Stage 4 - Sonora to Clovis. This one is going to be long and ouchy. Clovis, named after Clovis I, the king of the Franks, is known for their rodeo (pronounced "ROW-DEE-OH" in these parts) and is also, apparently, the "Gateway to the Sierras". Go ahead, Google it. I'll wait... Unfortunately, since Clovis is at the end of a 130 mile long rolling foothill stage with a dog-choking mother-lode of climbing, it will seem more like the "Colon of the Sierras" to the riders when the day ends. But since the climbing is mostly early, it will probably be another bunch- sprint finish.
Prediction: Someone will win. He will be on a bicycle. He will be sweaty and tired. And he will either be named Peter Sagan, or not named Peter Sagan.
Stage 5 - Bakersfield ITT. I love Bakersfield. Seriously. Great town. Full of oil fields, and Basques, and honky-tonks. Great place for a TT, and this route is challenging and interesting despite the fact that they did not take my excellent suggestion about doing it as an homage to Mad Max thing, heading out across the oil field pursued by these guys, which is disappointing on many levels. Ah well. A boy can dream... Anyway, at least they are using the nasty little hill that they used a few years ago to end the stage, so you will be able to look out upon the vast, desolate oil field and be humbled by it's vast desolation. They rIde down this nasty hillt to start, head off into the dusty hinterlands, and then ride back up the same nasty hill to finish. So it will be sort of a weee!..cough...cough...ouch...ouch...whew kind of TT.
Prediction: Lord Humungus will unleash his dogs of war upon your compound, your gasoline will be his and there will be no survivors!
Stage 6 - Palmdale to Big Bear. Long and with mountains, this route follows the popular meth smuggling route pioneered by the San Berdoo Hells Angels back in the winter of 1965 (They wanted to get in some skiing). It will be almost devoid of spectators for the entire route and will end at popular ski resort, Snow Summit, that will be totally fucking packed with spectators. This one has some actual serious elevation to it and is going to hurt, and the finish straight is long and uphill and almost killed some dudes last time. A big break will get away and stay away.
Prediction: Contador will not win this one. Trust me on that.
Stage 7 - Ontario to Mt. Baldy. I hate this stage. It sucks. It's long, and steep, and hot, and you get flats, and see snakes, and cry, and, wait, what?... You're saying that I don't have to ride it again? Oh... Most excellent!. Then I love this stage! It's long and steep and hot and painful, and you get flats and cry and whoever wins this stage will win the entire race. Probably.
Prediction: Levi will probably win this one. Unless he does not. Then another guy will win it. But I bet Levi wins.
Stage 8 - Downtown LA circuit race, Beverly Hills to LA Live.This one starts at Rodeo Drive (pronounced "ROW-DAY-OH" in these parts) where all the rich folks shop in movies, heads east down the Sunset Strip and Hollywood Blvd, past all the touristy Hollywood crap, and all the hookers who do not look like Julia Roberts, and then down into the bowels of downtown LA for a bunch of laps. The overall winner will have emerged earlier in the race, either at the ITT, or on stage 7, so this stage will be mainly for the photo opps with celebs and for the VIPs in their tents with their armed guards, etc., but it will be entertaining regardless. A good race to watch in person.
Prediction: Who cares. Someone get me another Michelob Ultra, pronto, and some more low-carb Pringles. I need to work on my abs.
*This statement has not been independently verified. Your results may vary. Don't put beans up your nose.