Lake Tahoe routes announced for 2016 Amgen Tour of California | SierraSun.com

Lake Tahoe routes announced for 2016 Amgen Tour of California

Staff report

Officials with the 2016 Amgen Tour of California pro cycling competition recently announced course details for this year's stage race.

The Lake Tahoe portion of the men's and women's competitions will include iconic vistas along the 72-mile circumference of the lake as well as a challenging route though backcountry terrain in Hope Valley.

"It's the best of the best — the High Sierra climbs and routes for the elite cyclists will be challenging, extreme, and we anticipate another tight and thrilling competition," said Carol Chaplin, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.

The annual competition will once again include more than 350 of the world's top cyclists. The men's Stage 5 will begin in Lodi and finish at Heavenly Mountain Resort's California Base Lodge in South Lake Tahoe, totaling 132.4 miles.

The women's Stage 1 will start and finish at Heavenly, totaling 72.7 miles. Both the men's and women's stages will take place May 19.

WOMEN'S COURSE

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Featuring a long day of climbing, the women's stage out of Heavenly will reach its highest elevation at 8,600 feet.

With approximately 160 female athletes, the competition begins between 10-11 a.m. The course will consist of a 72-mile clockwise lap around the perimeter of Lake Tahoe, providing competitors with technical challenges, twisting descents and fast straightaways.

The climb along the West Shore will overlook Emerald Bay and Cascade Lake before continuing along Highway 89 into Tahoe City. From there, the peloton will head through Kings Beach, passing into Nevada at Crystal Bay and Incline Village.

After passing above Sand Harbor State Park, the race will continue east with a 1,000-foot ascent to U.S. Highway 50 near Spooner Lake. Racers then descend into Zephyr Cove before facing the climb back into South Lake Tahoe as they near the finish line.

In a slight variation from last year's women's race, cyclists will leave Highway 50 and enter onto Pioneer Trail then to Ski Run Boulevard and finish at the California Base Lodge at Heavenly.

The athletes should finish between 1-2 p.m. There will be a 20-minute rolling stop in the procession, which takes about three hours to circumnavigate the entire lake.

MEN'S COURSE

Meanwhile, the men's race will feature approximately 200 athletes, some of whom will be tuning up for the Tour de France later in the season.

Stage 5 of their race will start in Lodi, and will travel over Highway 88 passing Kirkwood Mountain Resort. The men will face hairpin turns and climbs passing several alpine lakes before reaching Hope Valley — between Kirkwood Mountain Resort and South Lake Tahoe.

They will then turn at Pickett's Junction onto Highway 89, for a challenging ascent to the 7,740-foot summit of Luther Pass and then a steep descent into the Tahoe Basin, arriving at around 3 p.m.

Athletes will pass through Meyers and travel into South Lake Tahoe along Pioneer Trail, to Ski Run Boulevard, and finish at around 3:45 p.m. at Heavenly's California Lodge.

With the men's course there will be 20-minute rolling stops as they arrive in the Tahoe Basin and until they cross the finish line. Event organizers anticipate a 1-hour, 45-minute gap between the men's and women's races.

This marks the third time in the last six years Amgen will have a presence at Tahoe-Truckee. The three-stage Amgen Tour of California women's race in 2015 started at Lake Tahoe.

Back in 2011, the first two legs of the Amgen Tour of California were scheduled to take place at Lake Tahoe and Truckee in May, but snowy weather forced their cancellation.

For more information about the Amgen Tour of California, visit http://www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.