Changes bring both good and bad to cycling event 

The cycling race's May start date has already proven successful — despite matching up with the older Giro d’Italia, the Amgen Tour still attracted some of the world’s best cyclists.

Heading into this year’s Amgen Tour of California, race officials, cyclists and industry experts pointed to two major changes in the event that considerably increased its prestige — moving the start back to May, and introducing a mountain stage finish that mirrored the climatic finales of the Grand Tours in Europe.

The May start date has already proven successful — despite matching up with the older Giro d’Italia, the Amgen Tour still attracted some of the world’s best cyclists. On Friday, the second half of the equation — a backbreaking climb up to Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains — was introduced, and after witnessing the toll the ascent took on some of the sport’s best riders, it would be tough to argue that the Amgen Tour lacks a premier mountain finish.

Seventeen different cyclists, including highly-regarded riders Tom Boonen, Juan Jose Haedo and Francesco Chicchi, dropped out during the arduous 135-mile Stage 6 race from Palmdale to Big Bear Lake. A further 11 more, including sprint specialist Mark Cavendish, finished the course after the time limit.

It wasn’t just the steepness of the race — the last 45 miles of the leg were almost all uphill, and in total the riders scaled over 12,000 feet — it was also the elevation that bedeviled the Tour riders.

At 6,000 feet, Big Bear Lake was, by far, the highest-elevated finish in the short history of the Amgen Tour. While it wasn’t exactly an ending in the Pyrenees, the finale in Big Bear Lake — and the subsequent carnage it left of the racing field — proved that the Amgen Tour has a course that can compete with the big boys from Europe.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

About The Author

Will Reisman

Pin It
Favorite

Speaking of Sports

Latest in Other Sports

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Videos

Most Popular Stories

© 2018 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation