After a dominating performance at the Tour of the Gila, Rally Cycling heads into the 2017 Amgen Tour of California with strong teams looking to make an impact in North America’s premier event. It will be the program’s ninth time competing in the race, and the first time the men’s team will compete in a WorldTour event. Evan Huffman, last year’s Tour of California King of the Mountains, and recent winner of the Tour of the Gila will lead a strong and diverse men’s squad. Olympic medalists, Kelly Catlin and Kirsti Lay will lead the women’s team with ambitions for overall victory.
The men’s edition of the 2017 Amgen Tour of California starts in Sacramento on May 14 and heads south through the golden state ending in Pasadena on May 20. The seven-day stage race will include a mountaintop finish, a high altitude time trial along with flat and rolling stages to assure a tough and exciting event. The first stage, starting and ending in Sacramento seems ideally suited for the sprinters. Stage two will see the peloton tackle Mount Hamilton and will serve as the first real test for the general classification riders. Stages three and four take the race south through traditional coastal stops including Morro Bay, Pismo Beach and Santa Barbara and feature a combination of flat and rolling terrain. These transition stages are well suited to breakaways and sprinters alike looking to make their mark in the race’s twelfth edition. Stage five will see the general classification battle heat up on the climb to the top of Mount Baldy in the event’s queen stage. Although relatively short at only 125 kilometers, it features three categorized climbs and over 11,000 feet of elevation gain. The following day, the riders move over to Big Bear Lake for the stage six time trial. The race concludes the next day with a largely downhill run from Mountain High to downtown Pasadena.
After two stage wins at the Tour of the Gila, Eric Young will be looking to grab stage wins in the Golden State.
“I'm very excited to be racing my second Tour of California with Rally Cycling,” said Huffman. “I’m happy with my second place stage result and King of the Mountains classification win from last year, and I have ambitions to achieve more in 2017. I feel confident in my fitness after winning the general classification at Tour of the Gila, especially on the time trial bike. I am focused on the stage six time trial for a high stage finish and look to move up in the general classification there.”
Lining up next to Huffman will be additional general classification riders Rob Britton, Matteo Dal-Cin, Adam de Vos (second in stage 5 last year), and Sepp Kuss. All five riders are coming off strong spring campaigns in Europe and dominated the recent Tour of the Gila, taking home four stage wins, the King of the Mountains, and the overall title. Veteran Danny Pate will captain Rally Cycling on the roads of California while Colin Joyce and Eric Young complete the roster. Coming off two stage wins at the Tour of the Gila, Young will be one to watch for victories in the flat opening stage around Sacramento, stage three into Morro Bay and stage seven on the streets of downtown Pasadena.
“We are coming off an incredible performance at the Tour of the Gila, and hoping that our team can ride that momentum into the Amgen Tour of California,” said Performance Manager Jonas Carney. “We’ve had some great success in California over the last few years, and we aim to build on those this year. It is always a challenge to compete against the biggest teams in the world, but the guys are up to the task. We have a well-balanced team with strong sprinters, climbers, and time trialists. The Tour of California will be even more challenging this year with its upgrade to WorldTour status, but we will race aggressively and take advantage of opportunities.”
Kirsti Lay heads to California with ambitions for the general classification
On the women’s side, Olympic medalists Kelly Catlin and Kristi Lay will lead Rally Cycling. Both riders have recently returned to the road after racing for their national teams at the World Track Championships. Catlin helped power the United States pursuit squad to gold, before grabbing bronze in the individual pursuit. Caitlin Laroche joins Catlin and Lay, coming off a strong performance at the Tour of the Gila highlighted by a ninth-place finish on the infamous Gila Monster stage. Emma White recently claimed her first UCI victory in stage four of the Tour of the Gila and will be joined by recently crowned national collegiate criterium and road race champion Erica Allar. The fast finishing duo will have additional support in the sprints from Katherine Maine who rounds out the roster.
“After finishing up the track season last month it will be my third stage race of the season, and I'm looking to contribute to the success of the girls from Joe Martin and Gila,” said Lay. “Unfortunately we will be without last year's stage one Queen of the Mountains Sara Poidevin and Sara Bergen, who are both injured, but we can still challenge for stage wins and put a rider in the top five on general classification.”
The four-day Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race, starts on May 11, with a 117-kilometer loop around Lake Tahoe. Stage two will also be centered around Lake Tahoe but will head west over Luther’s past before looping through the Washoe Reservation and heading north to tackle the 13-kilometer, Kingsbury Grade. Stage three sees the riders race 113 kilometers from Elk Grove to Sacramento. The fourth and final stage is a 70-kilometer circuit race around the California State Capitol Museum in the heart of downtown Sacramento.
Fresh off her win in stage four of the Tour of the Gila, Emma White will be on the hunt for stage wins
"The spring has been a long, steady build-up to the Tour of California,” said Team Director Zach Bell. “We have riders who can contest for classification jerseys, stage wins and the overall. The first two stages are critical to being able to challenge for the general classification so we will look for a strong start in Tahoe.”
Amgen Tour of California
Stage 1: Sacramento (167.5 km)
Stage 2: Modesto - San Jose (144.5 km)
Stage 3: Pismo Beach - Morro Bay (192.5 km)
Stage 4: Santa Barbara - Santa Clarita (159.5 km)
Stage 5: Ontario - Mt. Baldy (125.5 km)
Stage 6: Big Bear Lake (24 km)
Stage 7: Mountain High - Pasadena (125 km)
Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race
Stage 1: South Lake Tahoe (117 km)
Stage 2: South Lake Tahoe (108 km)
Stage 3: Elk Grove - Sacramento (118 km)
Stage 4: Sacramento (70 km)
Rally Cycling for Amgen Tour of California
Adam de Vos
Rally Cycling for Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race