[Article was written before the start of the Tour of California and has not been updated.]
The battle for the overall victory in the Tour of California probably comes down to three deciding races. As early as the 2nd leg the GC riders are tested on the road to Santa Barbara County. A lot of inclines underway, while the race finishes uphill after a 12 kilometres climb at 8%.
Stage 4 is an rolling individual time trial of almost 35 kilometres before it’s all systems go in the Queen Stage on the sixth day of action. The route features 4,880 vertical metres and the high altitude in the mountains above South Lake Tahoe. The last 20 kilometres take in two climbs – firstly, a 12.7 kilometres ascent at 6.1% and the final run-in to the line is a 1.7 kilometres slope with an average gradient of 5.9%.
The participant with the best credentials in 2018 is young Egan Bernal. The Colombian sat second on GC when he crashed out of the Volta a Catalunya on the last stage, while he won a mountain time trial and finished second on last month’s Tour de Romandie – behind Primoz Roglic and ahead of Richie Porte. Adam Yates is another rider on fine form who met with setback. He took a stage at the Tirreno-Adriatico before he left the Volta a Catalunya with a pelvis fracture. The Briton returns to racing at the Tour of California. Romain Bardet did not win any race yet in 2018, but he was strong on Strade Bianche (second) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (third). Yet, the French climber won’t be thrilled by the prospect of the long time trial on the fourth day.
Former Tour of California winners – who are still racing – include George Bennett (2017), Julian Alaphilippe (2016), Peter Sagan (2015), Tejay van Garderen (2013) and Robert Gesink (2012). The victors of 2015 and 2013 are competing in the 2018 edition.
Favourites Tour of California 2018
*** Adam Yates, Egan Bernal, Rafal Majka
** Tejay van Garderen, Mathias Frank, Lawson Craddock, Daniel Martínez
* Laurens De Plus, Peter Stetina, Neilson Powless, Sebastian Henao
Tour of California 2018: Route maps, height profiles, and more
Click on the images to zoom.