Spectator’s Guide to the Amgen Tour of California
This blog originally appeared on Localfreshies.com, and is reprinted here with permission from the author.
For 2019, Stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California is returning yet again to race through Tahoe on Monday, May 13th. In 2016, we got the opportunity to see them in person. While I wasn’t familiar with cycling at the time, I couldn’t miss this opportunity to see it in my own backyard! In fact, it got me hooked on the sport. For this year, the men’s course for the day will begin in Rancho Cordova and end in South Lake Tahoe at the base of Heavenly Ski Resort. It’s going to be the longest AND biggest vertical climb in the tour’s history! For those curious about the basics of road cycle racing and how it works, check out our article below.
Peloton - What's That?
An odd word you’ll hear when you’re watching a cycling event is the term “Peloton.” There is usually the main group of cyclists and the “chase” group. This main group where most riders are is what the term refers to. Of course, there can be more than one chase group. But no matter what, there is always a main group of riders and this is called the “Peloton.” In Stage 5 of the Tour of California, there were over 120 cyclists mere inches apart in the “Peloton!”
Like a Pack of Wild Horses, The Peloton Rushes In
Words can’t explain the excitement of seeing a race come through your town. Before the first racer arrives, a car blazes the course with a loudspeaker, hyping the crowd and reporting the first riders will be coming into view in a few minutes. This car is then followed by a wave of police ensuring the course is clear and secure. The first small group rushes past, followed by another, and then the Peloton can be seen peaking over the horizon down the road. Like a pack of wild horses, they can be seen jockeying for position as they take over the entire street. The sensation of being so close to the cyclists as they push for the finish is invigorating. The crowd roars, cheering on their favorite teams and riders as the contestants peddle by.
Another oddity for this first-time spectator was the water bottles. I know you are questioning me, but let me explain. As the competitors wiz by, a steady stream of water bottles are tossed towards the crowd and on the sides of the roadway. After they pass, there are plastic water bottles strewn everywhere! Being a collector, this is truly cool! To actually own some memorabilia from the event is thrilling. We were lucky enough to get one from the Jelly Belly Team, Giant Team and the Specialized Team.
More Than One Way to Win?
In almost any sport that you can think of, there is only one champion. Well, in professional cycling it’s a bit different. There are multiple ways to win. This means there are multiple championships being battled for in the same race! Each day a winner is crowned for these sub-races and awarded a jersey for their stage appearance. The categories and explanations are listed below.
This signifies the person who has the fastest time across the entire length of the race.
This is for the cyclist who scores the most points across the entire length of the race. These points are based on certain parts that are signified as “sprint” stages.
King/Queen of the Mountain Jersey
Similar to the sprint jersey except for the rider who is the strongest climber of the day wins.
Most Courageous Jersey
This is the coolest jersey in our opinion. The winner of this jersey lays it all on the line. It’s awarded to the individual that exemplifies courage, sacrifice, inspiration, determination, and perseverance. This means he/she is the one that goes for it!
Best Young Rider Jersey
This is as is sounds. The rider with the fastest course completion of the day under 26 years of age is crowned the winner.
Warm up for Tour de France
The Amgen Tour of California is a warm-up for the Tour De France. It was a great opportunity to view such high-level talent my first time out. You have to be there to catch the vibe and really get the feel for an event of this magnitude. In case you missed it or want a recap, check out the video below.