“Just a big long drag, a guaranteed big bunch sprint.” said Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) about stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California.
At 130.2 miles (209.6 km) long, the Sonora to Clovis stage is the longest of the race this year. It will also be another hot sunny day in the saddle,with predicted highs in the 90s °F
Two days before the start of the seventh edition of the event, Northern California native Jacques-Maynes provided his insights on the stages. Many of the roads used in this stage are also used in the NorCal event, the Madera Stage Race.
Starting in Sonora, the riders head south towards Mariposa and Oakhurst (both Sprint cities), they will enjoy the incredible beauty and challenge of historic Highway 49. As they skirt Yosemite, they will encounter everything from numerous KOMs, twisty and technical descents, and raging rivers, but very few sections of flat roadway. Once through Mariposa, Highway 49 widens a bit, but two more KOMs will await the cyclists as they head to the final Sprint in Oakhurst. The riders will no doubt be fearless as they attack the final 40 miles into the return to Clovis, perhaps recalling the snow and ice along this same route in 2009.
“They love their sprint in Clovis, they basically design it for it. It looks gnarly with so many KOMs, all in a row but those climbs are very steady, they’re not terrible. The entire bunch made it over those two years ago.” continued Jacques-Maynes.
The battle today will be for the KOM points. “This is the day where the KOM jersey is decided. So an opportunist who feels like riding for 200 kilometers, going hard at the top of multiple climbs in a row will be greatly rewarded. They’ll be able to do that, maybe sprint once or twice for the rest of the week and then have the KOM jersey locked up.”
Wind should not be a factor in today’s stage with the stage taking small protected roads in the foothills.
Back in 2009, Mark Cavendish (then with HTC-Columbia) took the win – in a bunch sprint – ahead of Tom Boonen (then with Quick Step). The finish was memorable because of the clouds of yellow dust raising from all the chalk on the road.
Stage 4 (Sonora to Clovis) details:
- Length: 130.2 miles (209.6 km)
- Start time: 10:35 am PDT
- Finish time (ETA): 3:39 pm – 5:10 pm PDT
- Neutral section: 2.0 miles (3.2 km)
- Time bonus of 10, 6 & 4 seconds
- Sprint points of 15, 12, 10, 7, 6, 5,4, 3, 2, 1 points
- 2 Intermediate sprint for time bonus (3, 2, 1 seconds) and points (5, 3, 1 pts)
- In Mariposa (mile 51.4)
- In Oakhurst (mile 78.3)
- 6 KOMs
- cat 4 on CA-49 (mile 20.4)
- cat 2 on CA-49 (mile 38.8)
- cat 4 on CA-49 (mile 55.3)
- cat 4 on CA-49 (mile 61.2)
- cat 3 on CA-49 (mile 68.7)
- cat 3 on Crane Valley Rd. (mile 83.7)