As early as stage 2 the focus shifts to the climbers. The route sets off at the Ventura Pier though, just a few feet away from the Pacific Ocean. The riders head south and pass Ventura’s harbour just to turn inland after some 10 kilometres and continuing on the flat. Which changes to a false flat and eventually the first climb at Balcom Canyon Road – 1.6 kilometres at 4.7% -, a KOM that’s crested at kilometre 31.5.
Following a sharp drop the route continues on rolling terrain through the Topatopa Mountains. The climb to Ojal stands out with its length of 3.9 kilometres and an average gradient of 4%. While descending down to the ocean the Casitas Pass is another obstacle – 2.9 kilometres at 5.7%.
After reaching the Pacific once again and moving through the seaside town of Carpinteria the penultimate climb accounts for 1.1 punchy kilometres at 8.1%. It’s a perfect way to stretch the legs before the final haul up to the finish kicks in.
The famed Gibraltar Road climb is one of the hardest in Santa Barbara County. Together with the heat of the semi-arid Mediterranean climate, the 12 kilometres climb at 8% is as grueling as beautiful. While the road is lined with boulders and coastal sage and chaparral, the last 2 kilometres go up at 10%. It’s here Julian Alaphilippe propelled to both stage and overall victory in 2016.
The views at the top are magnificent. The Pacific Ocean at your feet and in the distance the Channel Islands.
The first three riders on the line take time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds, while two intermediate sprints (at kilometre 64.5 and at kilometre 123) come with 3, 2 and 1 seconds.
Tour of California 2018 stage 2: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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