Details of stage 3 of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California are starting to become available. Last year's stage from Sausalito to Santa Cruz looked to be shortened for 2010 as the stage will start on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. In order to make up some of the reduced distance and give the stage a bit more punch, it appears that the 2010 edition of the route will include as least one more major climb, Page Mill Road, and potentially a smaller ascent, Haskins Hill, as well.
The first climb of the stage will be the same as in 2009. Tunitas Creek Road is an 8-mile, 2000-foot ascent with a 1.8 mile stretch mid-climb which averages in the 9% range.
In 2009, the race turned right on Highway 35 and after four miles turned right onto Highway 84 for the fifteen mile, mostly downhill, run back to the coast and Highway 1.
In 2010, it appears that the race will not turn right on Highway 35, but will instead head down into Silicon Valley on Kings Mountain Road, a 4.5-mile, 1500 foot technical descent through California redwoods. At the bottom of the climb, the race will head south for five to seven miles of rolling terrain, the exact route yet to be determined, to the base of Page Mill Road.
Page Mill Road is an 8-mile, 1800-foot climb that is popular with Bay Area cyclists. It is stair stepped in nature with many steep, 10-15%, pitches and even a few flat and downhill sections. Mid-climb is a 3/4-mile stretch which sports consistent grades of 12-15%.
At the top of Page Mill Road, the race will most like continue down Alpine Road, a twisty, technical, seven-mile 1800-foot descent with several very tight turns right at the bottom. From there, the race has two options. It can continue out to the coast on Highway 84 as it did last year, it is about seven flat miles to the coast.
The other option is to climb the two-mile, 600-foot Haskins Hill and follow Pescadero Road out to Highway 1. The descent of Haskins Hill is another high-speed, technical affair. It can be slick at the bottom.
Once in the town of Pescadero, the race can continue out to Highway 1 or it can turn left onto Cloverdale Road and follow that for seven, mostly flat miles out to the coast and Highway 1. Regardless of the route taken, from the top of Page Mill Road, it is about 40 miles to the bottom to the finishing climb of Bonny Doon Road.
The exact route details will be available soon, but it appears that the 2010 version of this stage will contain about 2500-3000' feet of additional climbing over the 2009 edition.
The Amgen Tour of California(AToC) has even started, but I am already calling it an unqualified success. Why so, you might ask? It all has to do with a little stretch of blacktop called Tunitas Creek Road. This very popular Silicon Valley climb will be included in Stage 2 of the AToC. While this 8-mile, 2000-foot ascent comes a bit too early in the stage to be decisive, it is still a worthy test for cyclists pros and amateurs alike.
Unfortunately, the pavement during the steepest part of the ascent has been deteriorating over the years and a serious repaving was definitely in order. You might remember my blog from a month or so ago where I lamented that Tunitas Creek Road was supposed to be repaved for the AToC, but the local road crew appeared to have only done half the job and packed up for good.
So, I sent an E-mail to AToC Race Director, Jim Birrell, notifying him of the situation on Tunitas Creek Road. Here are a couple of key paragraphs from the E-mail:
"Having ridden this road for the past 20 years, I can tell you that just filling in the obvious potholes is not going to make a significant improvement in the quality of the road. The pavement in this 2-mile section is so old and poor that even without a rain storm, new potholes seem to appear overnight. The only way to really fix the road is to lay down brand new pavement, curb-to-curb, as was done on approximately 1.5 miles of the upper section of the road during the repaving this past fall.
Frankly, I think the quality of the pavement in the aforementioned section is way below the standard of quality of the roads that should be part of America's premier stage race. But, don't take my word for it. An inspection from someone on your technical committee(not someone on the local organizing committee) will quickly reveal the substandard quality of the roadway. Yes, it really is that bad."
Well, Jim is a stand-up guy and he sent his technical representative for this area, Eric Smith, out to inspect the road. Lo and behold, this week, about a month after my letter, there was a road crew out on Tunitas Creek Road finishing the paving project. Major props to the Jim and Eric for working this issue and fixing the problem. If you ever wondered about the lasting benefits of having a big-time bike race in your area, this is certainly one of them!