Amgen Tour of California coming to Lake Tahoe; two stages on South Shore | SierraSun.com

Amgen Tour of California coming to Lake Tahoe; two stages on South Shore

Sun News Service report

Cyclists compete in the Amgen Tour of California Women's Ride last year. The 2015 women’s race will be hold its first two stages in Lake Tahoe May 8-9.

For the first time, 14 of the top women's cycling teams from around the world will vie for the Amgen Tour of California women's race title — and they will do so on local ground. The three-stage cycling competition will contest its first two stages in Lake Tahoe May 8 and 9. Union Cycliste International is sanctioning the race, denoting it the highest level for a non-World Cup event.

The start and finish line for both stages are located at Heavenly Mountain Resort's California Main Lodge. Stage 1 on Friday, May 8, consists of a 74-mile clockwise lap around the perimeter of Lake Tahoe and provides a bit of everything — twisting descents, fast straights, two challenging Queen of the Mountains (riders completing the climbs in the lowest cumulative time) and stunning views. The debut is part of the 10th anniversary edition of the Amgen Tour of California and the first three-day women's stage race of its kind begins at 10 a.m. in South Lake Tahoe.

The climb along the West Shore overlooks Emerald Bay and Cascade Lake, and continues along the scenic shoreline into Tahoe City. The peloton proceeds through Kings Beach, passing into Nevada at Crystal Bay.

The cyclists will proceed past Sand Harbor State Park while racing continues with a 1,000-foot ascent to Highway 50 near Spooner Lake. Racers then descend into Zephyr Cove before embarking on a climb back into South Lake Tahoe as they near the finish line. Cyclists will leave Highway 50 at Lake Parkway and wind their way behind the casinos toward the finish line with the brutal climb up a 15-percent grade. This opening stage will produce a worthy winner from the international field.

Stage 2 on Saturday, May 9, begins at 10:30 a.m. The 50-mile, two-loop race will take cyclists along Pioneer Trail, South Upper Truckee Road and State Route 89. After a descent from Heavenly, they will ride off to State Route 89.

The second half of the course features the switchback Queen of the Mountain challenge followed by the climb up Ski Run Blvd. to the finish line, concluding two challenging days in Lake Tahoe.

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Following the two stages, the third and final stage of the competition is in Sacramento on Sunday, May 10.

Local law enforcement along with race and tourism officials created routes designed to have the least impact on residents and visitors. Travelers should expect 20-minute delays along the courses on both days while the race is passing through a given point. Specific road information will be provided at a later date.

Powerhouse teams such as Velocio-SRAM (formerly Team Specialized-lululemon) — which ranked second in the world last season — and Alé-Cipollini boast rosters with some of the most decorated women in the sport. They will compete in what many experts believe will be the best women's cycling event ever to take place on U.S. soil. Several of the teams expected to put forward top contenders for the overall win are also mounting counterparts in the men's race, including Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, BMW p/b Happy Tooth Dental (under the same management as Team SmartStop) and UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team.

The full list of teams that will race May 8-10 includes Alé-Cipollini, BMW p/b Happy Tooth Dental, Canada National Team, Colavita|Bianchi p/b Fine Cooking, Grassi Pro Cycling Team Mexico, Itau Shimano Ladies Power Team, Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International, Pepper Palace Pro Cycling p/b The Happy Tooth, Team TIBCO-SVB, Twenty16 p/b Sho-Air, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, Velocio-SRAM, Xirayas de San Luis.

For more information, visit http://www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.