It was inevitable. The four recent rock and mudslides along Highway 1 which have closed the coastal road, forced an inland route between Seaside and Paso Robles for stage 5 of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California on May 19.
“The Amgen Tour of California has changed the route of stage 5 from Seaside to Paso Robles. We will now be riding through Fort Ord, Laurales Grade, Carmel Valley Rd, all of which are part of my normal riding routes and a beautiful showcase for the central coast.” said Ben Jacques-Maynes (BISSELL). He would know as these roads are his training ground.
“I’m a bit disappointed with the finish though, we take the easiest route into town which, when combined with the tailwind we’ll have all day, will guarantee a sprint.” added Jacques-Maynes. “It would have been entirely possible to route into Peachy Canyon Rd and preserve the old run-in.”
Unfortunately, the new route reduces the chances to (almost) nil of a break making it to the finish line. Jacques-Maynes concluded, “I think the organizers aren’t minding adding another sprint day, but I thought this was THE day a break would go to the end, as the last 40k would have let the break survive.”
The original 138.9-mile (223.5-km) route followed Hwy 1 from Seaside through Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove and Big Sur - across Bixby Bridge and over two KOMs – before taking a left turn in Cambria. The inland road, the Santa Rosa Creek Road is narrow, twisting and overgrown with hanging vegetation with a constant 2-3 percent grade up until the 20 percent “Wall.” Followed by a steep and technical descent after cresting the KOM, the route headed to the the same long finishing straight to the Downtown City Park in Paso Robles that was used the last time the Amgen Tour of California finished here in 2009.
After starting in Seaside, the new 135.1-mile (217.4-km) route heads east through decommissioned Fort Ord into Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, home of the Sea Otter Classic. A few turns takes the riders out onto Hwy 68 and the first of four KOMs, Laureles Grade. A fast four-mile descent brings the race into the quaint village of Carmel Valley and the first of two Sprints for the stage. The narrow, twisty road keeps climbing, and within 45 minutes the race will have scaled two more KOMs. It is then a long descent along the Carmel Valley River.
Then the second Sprint in the rural town of Greenfield is followed by a feedzone. Leaving Greenfield, the scenery changes as the riders enter one of the most fertile agricultural valleys in California and a flat road. As the race passes through the towns of King City and San Lucas, the riders will head west to more rolling hills.
Rolling terrain for the next 30 miles, with the final KOM of the stage splitting Lake Nacimiento and Lake San Antonio, followed by the final push into Paso Robles.