The 2011 Amgen Tour of California, is the largest cycling race in America, and will be held on May 15, 2011 - May 22, 2011. The race is presented by AEG who is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. The race is similar to a Tour de France style race with some of the world's top professional cycling teams competing on a demanding course through California.
There are lots of events that will be going on in the area before the race, and each finishing town has a big event planned. Be sure to check the Truckee Travel Guide Event Calendar to see what is happening!
I'm super excited about the race this year, as I got "Press Credentials" to cover the first two days of the race in the Truckee area, so on May 15, the "Stage One" part of the race that starts at South Lake Tahoe, and ends at Northstar, I'll be in Northstar. On May 16th, the "Stage Two" part of the race starts in the Village at Squaw Valley, through downtown Truckee, along Donner Lake, up Old Hwy 40 to Donner Summit, and through Nevada City and ends up on the second day in downtown Sacramento. I'll be at the starting line on Day 2 in Squaw Valley. I can't wait!!
Riding my bike around Lake Tahoe is on my "Bucket List" of things to do sometime in the next five years. I drove the lake a few times in the summer of 2010 to check out the course, and would love it if they completed the bike trails all the way around Lake Tahoe. The Emerald Bay section looked extremely challenging, especially having to share the road with cars!
This was the view on Hwy 89 from South Lake Tahoe coming up the hill towards Emerald Bay. I would not want to be near the edge in a bike race!! I took 125 pictures as I drove the Lake two times and I put them on my Facebook profile. It gives you a great feel for the road, and the challenges ahead for the Amgen cyclists as they ride the Lake 1.5 times.
Stage One - May 15th - South Lake Tahoe to Northstar
The fantastic video below is an absolutely beautiful video of the Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay area, and shows the entire course of the first day, or "Stage One" of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California race.
Lake Tahoe's first-ever involvement in the race as the official Overall Start is Sunday, May 15 and begins at 6,300 feet, the highest start elevation in the six-year history of the competition. Cyclists will begin at MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa on the California/Nevada border in South Lake Tahoe, ride a lap-and-a-half around Lake Tahoe, ascend Brockway Summit on Hwy 267 and turn onto Northstar Drive where they'll set-up for a high-speed blast to the finish line at Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort. Upon completion of Stage 1, the peloton will have conquered 119 miles and three mountains passes in approximately five hours with a total elevation gain of 5,500 feet.
If you are planning on heading to South Lake Tahoe to watch the start of the Amgen Tour of California, please be advised that Hwy 50 is temporarily closed at Echo Summit (May 11th - approx. two weeks). There is an alternate route that will add 35 miles to your trip. You can get maps of the detour route and additional information at http://www.way2tahoe.com/index.aspx.
UPDATE: Due to the SNOW in the Tahoe area, on 5/15/2011, Stage 1 was initially postponed with a shorter route that eliminated the higher pass areas like Emerald Bay. At the last minute, for rider safety, Stage 1 was cancelled.
Village at Squaw Valley on 5/15/2011, the day of the cancellation of Stage 1 of the AMGEN race, showing the snow from the day. Photo Credit: Leigh Storz, Owner of Truckee-Travel-Guide.com
Stage Two - May 16 - Squaw Valley to Downtown Sacramento
UPDATE: With the cancellation of Stage 1, and steady snow at Squaw Valley all day of 5/15/2011, it looked to me like Stage 2 might be in Jeopardy. I posted a lot of pictures from Squaw Valley on 5/15/2011 on the Truckee Travel Guide Facebook Page As of 5:00am on 5/16/2011, it looks to me like Stage 2 will be a go! I'll be posting pictures of the start on my Facebook Page.
UPDATE: Just announced by AMGEN organizers at approx. 5:30am, that the Stage 2 start has been moved from Squaw Valley to Nevada City with a start time of 12:15pm. Bummer for the Truckee area!
Day Two starts at the Village of Squaw Valley, travels through downtown Truckee, along Donner Lake and up Old Hwy 40, which is a 1,000 foot vertical climb to Donner Summit. From there, the course goes up through Nevada City and ends up on the second day in Downtown Sacramento. Stage Two is one of the longest stages of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California race.
With no KOMs this is one of the last stages for the sprinters to showcase their speed at the finish. Auburn is known as the "Endurance Sports Capitol of the World". It is only fitting that the Amgen Tour of California begins here for one of the fastest stages of the race. At 120 miles, endurance will be a key factor for Stage 3.
Stage 4 - May 18 - Livermore to San Jose
Here is the Stage 4 YouTube Video Description:
Stage 4 is short, at just 81 miles, but what it lacks in distance it makes up with three grueling climbs. Two of the climbs are legendary in California lore.
Stage 5 - May 19 - Seaside to Paso Robles
Here is the Stage 5 YouTube Video Description:
It is great to be returning to Seaside and the Monterey Peninsula. This is the first race start in this storied location since 2008. We will take the same route down Hwy 1 through Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove and Big Sur.
Stage 6 - May 20 - Solvang Time Trial
Here is the Stage 6 YouTube Video Description:
After a hiatus in 2010, the individual time trial returns to Solvang. The quaint Danish village of hosts some of the Pro Tour teams annually for training camps, as well as some of the largest cycling events in the United States.
Stage 7 - May 21 - Claremont to Mt. Baldy
Stage 7 is described as being the most difficult stages in the history of bicycle racing in the USA, and will be the ultimate test to capture the yellow jersey. It will be the first mountain top finish in the history of the Amgen Tour of California.
Stage 8 - May 22 - Santa Clarita to Thousand Oaks
Here is the Stage 8 YouTube Video Description:
The Amgen Tour of California returns to one of its favorite host cities for the start of the final stage of the 2011 race. Santa Clarita is one of the up and coming cities in all of California.
The winner of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California will be crowned on the award stage in Thousand Oaks. He will have survived the longest and most difficult stage race ever contested in the USA.