Stage 6 at the Amgen Tour of California marks a return of the Big Bear finish, first seen in 2010 – however this year, the stage includes less climbs before the final ascent to the Snow Summit ski area at over 7,000-foot elevation.
“It’s a big fitness test and this is designed to tire out people’s legs.” Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) commented about the stage. Two days prior to the start of the seventh edition of the event, Northern California native Jacques-Maynes shared his insights with podiuminsight on the stages.
After a cruise down historic Sierra Highway, the racers will head into the Angeles National Forest for a short stretch on Angeles Forest Highway before turning onto Mt. Emma Road. Following the first climb of the day and then a descent to Fort Tejon Road, the first KOM at Mountain High ski area will be reached via a 12-mile climb to a 7,000-foot summit at Angeles Crest Highway. There will be a brief respite as the riders descend into Wrightwood and then over to Highway 138. The route will once again go vertical as it passes through Crestline and Lake Arrowhead, and then onto the Rim of the World Highway. Entering the Big Bear area, the riders will take the northern route around Big Bear Lake and then tackle the last ascent to the finish at a more than 7,000-foot elevation at the Snow Summit ski area.
“This course is going to be a lot easier that last time to Big Bear.” said Jacques-Maynes, who added that the hardest 40-km of the stage from 2010 are now being skipped. “We’re skipping four solid climbs that we did last year.”
“It’s a really nice road, it’s high desert, it’s a little lumpy but it’s not that bad. I don’t know about the cat 4 that we start with, it will probably be enough to send the breakaway, and we’ll see them again somewhere on Rim of the World highway.”
“Big Bear I think was a bit of a disappointment the first time they ran it, it was long, it was certainly difficult, there was a lot of climbing, but it wasn’t selective. They definitely thought to put more selective finishes, more selective courses. You have Mt Baldy coming right after so this is kind of the warmup to tire people out for that.”
Once again, Jacques-Maynes predicts a diminished sprint, of around 40 to 50 riders coming to the line. “Especially with it being shorter. There was 35 in the finishing group last time. With it being shorter, more guys will make it over that Crestline climb, not go into the gruppetto. The Rim of the World highway is beautiful, it’s kind of austere up there above the tree line, it’s not difficult. It’s very easy to sit in, it’s a highway. There’s no steep punches. It’s sit there and work out, test your fitness and see how you feel at altitude after riding at sea level all week.”
The hardest part of the stage is the climb up Crestline. “2.5 miles of steep and after that you’re back into fitness test.”
Simply put the plan for this stage is “surviving, hiding, being efficient and sprinting at the end.”
Though easier that the 2010 version of the stage, it is certainly not easy. “You have to be very fit to ride it at 40 km/h. And you’ll see plenty of tired people and you’ll see people dropped and you’ll see the gruppetto in minutes and minutes and minutes because they’re not racing. There’s a big difference between race pace and just riding it. Everyone is going to be just cruising and thinking about the difficulty the next day, especially the GC guys.” Jacques-Maynes concluded.
The winner back in 2010 was Peter Sagan (then with Liquigas-Doimo).
Stage 6 (Palmdale to Big Bear) details:
- Length: 115.7 miles (186.3 km)
- Start time: 10:25 am PDT
- Finish time (ETA): 2:59 pm – 4:21 pm PDT
- Neutral section: 3.3 miles (5.2 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 Crestline (mile 78.5)
- In Fawnskin (mile 109.6)
- 4 KOMs
- cat 4 on Mt Emma (mile 13.7)
- cat 1 on Wrightwood (mile 43)
- cat 3 on CA-138 (mile 75.5)
- cat 3 on CA-18 (mile 85.8