Tour of California starts 11:15 a.m. today, comes through Ramona

Sunday, May 12—

The eight-day, nearly 750-mile Tour of California, the nation’s largest cycling event, begins today with a 102.6-mile stage beginning and ending in Escondido and including more than 11,000 feet of climbing.

The stage is set to begin at 11:15 a.m. at Broadway and Grand Avenue, heading on winding state Route 78 to Ramona and Santa Ysabel before a climb up Palomar Mountain and a return to Escondido.

“We wanted to start with a unique twist,” said Kristin Bachochin, the race’s executive director. “Palomar Mountain is a top categorized climb so fireworks will go off early in the race.”

Ramonans wanting to watch the race should position themselves early along Main Street from 10th to Third, longtime cyclist and Ramona resident Joe Cahak says.

The racers will be coming up State Route 78 from Escondido, turning at 10th, riding to Third, where they will take the Old Julian Highway back to 78 to Santa Ysabel to Palomar.

“The Highway 78 grade from San Pasqual is nothing to these guys,” Cahak said this morning, explaining they average 20 to 25 mph climbing, 25 to 40 mph on straightaways and 50 to 60 mph downhill.

“That’s the level of athletic ability these guys are doing,” he said. “This is phenomenal.”

This is the first time since 2009 the race will include San Diego County. This is the first time in its eight-year history the race is being run from south to north.

“Taking the Amgen Tour of California from south to north is something we always knew we wanted to do,” Bachochin said. “We think this will bring a whole new element to the competition for the elite cyclists who participate, not to mention some striking California scenery for our worldwide audience.

“California provides a variety of beautiful yet challenging terrains, helping us achieve our goal of creating a challenging route year after year while showcasing the very best this state has to offer.”

The field includes 2010 Tour de France champion Andy Schleck, 10 other riders who have won stages in the Tour de France, seven world champions and 11 current national champions.

Monday’s second stage goes from Murrieta to Hemet, down the curvy and spectacular Highway 74 into Palm Desert before finishing at the base station of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

The race is set to conclude next Sunday in Santa Rosa.

   
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