Three days of pro cycling in the San Francisco Bay Area this weekend

The Amgen Tour of California bicycle road race will pass through the several cities throughout the San Francisco Bay Area beginning Friday, with a final stage out of San Francisco on Sunday.

Unlike past years, the Tour of California has moved from South to North. The race began last Sunday in Escondido in San Diego County, with stages passing through Palm Springs, Santa Clarita, Santa Barbara and up the coast to Avila Beach. The final three stages all take place in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can expect hordes of spectators at the starts, finishes, and KOM locations.

Lots of bikes

Friday – Stage 6 – San Jose Individual Time Trial: The racers will don skinsuits and aerodynamic helmets for individual races against the clock. The short 20 mile distance tests the riders’ sprint power, but this year’s course includes a twist – several 10% pitches on a climb to 1200 feet over the final two miles of the course.

The race begins on Bailey Avenue just south of Santa Teresa Road. The racers ride south, hang a left on McKean Road to Uvas Road. They’ll ride along Chesbro Reservoir then down Willow Springs Road to Hale Avenue just north of Morgan Hill. From Santa Teresa Avenue, the course crosses Highway 101 on Bailey Avenue. They’ll sprint alongside Highway 101 on Malech Road before turning right on Metcalf Road for the climb to the finish at the Santa Clara County Motorcycle Park.

An invitation only professional women’s time trial event begins at 12:45 PM. The race against the clock will be headlined by riders from top women’s teams, including Specialized-lululemon, TIBCO, Exergy Twenty16, NOW and Novartis for MS, Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies, and Vanderkitten, as well as several individual racers.

The men’s pro race begins at 1 PM. An amateur event at 12:30 PM gives local racers a chance to test their mettle against the pros.

Local organizers advise spectators that no parking will be available on Metcalf Road, with aggressive towing. Metcalf Road itself will be divided in half, with the uphill side used for the racing cyclists, and the downhill side reserved for team vehicles returning to the race start, so spectator viewing options will be limited. You need to arrive early, park at the bottom of the hill, and either walk or bike to the top of the hill.

Spectators at the race start can take part in the Lifestyle Festival, meet the teams, and catch a lot of the action at both the race start and at the turn to Bailey from Santa Teresa.

Saturday – Stage 7 – Livermore to Mount Diablo: This is the stage all of the locals are excited about. The climb to Mount Diablo is likely where this race will be won or lost, with over 10,000 feet of elevation gain over 91 miles. Morgan Territory Road through the East Bay hills is one of the more spectacular roads the race has ever used.

Road near Mount Diablo summit

The race will also return to Patterson Pass Rd and the infamous wall before returning to Livermore for the first Sprint of the day. The route to Mt. Diablo from Livermore is the same that was used in 2012 where a portion of the climb was along the Stage 3 route. The crowds on Mt. Diablo were among the largest ever seen along a mountain route for the race.

In 2013, the race will add an additional five miles of climbing to the actual summit. Think Mt. Baldy with a 360-degree view.

The race begins in Livermore at 11:35 AM, with arrival on Summit Road expected by 3:20 PM and the finish line by 3:45 PM.

Mount Diablo is accessed via two roads: North Gate Road from Walnut Creek and South Gate Road from Danville, with a $10 entry fee for cars; pedestrians and cyclists are free. Both roads open at 8 AM and will close at 2 PM, but you can expect epic crowds on Mount Diablo and officials will close the road sooner when (not if) available parking fills up. Summit Road itself will be completely closed to vehicles, with a 4.8 mile walk or bike to the finish from the gate. I know several people who plan to camp overnight on Diablo.

Golden Gate

Sunday – Stage 8 – San Francisco to Santa Rosa: The Tour begins its final stage at Marina Green in San Francisco 8:15 AM. The Golden Gate Bridge pedestrian walkways will be open so you can watch the racers whiz by over the bridge from the sidewalks, and I think we can expect much better weather than the last time the bike race traveled over San Francisco’s iconic bridge. The peloton stays on Highway 101 then exit to Highway 1 to Mill Valley then through Point Reyes National Seashore. Race is expected to finish at about 3:45 PM in Santa Rosa.

Mount Diablo near summit photo CC-BY Miguel Vieira. Golden Gate at Sunrise CC BY-SA Jamie Beverly. Race spectator photos by Yours Truly.


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