On Friday, May 18 cycling enthusiasts get an opportunity to ride a portion of the same route that the world’s greatest professional cyclists will race on during The Amgen Tour of California Stage 6 Finish in Big Bear Lake. The ride, called The King of the Mountain Experience, is open to all levels of cyclists that want to bask in the glory of riding through the official Amgen Tour of California finish line arch two hours before the actual professionals cross the finish line. Note: King of the Mountain Experience is limited to the first 250 registrants.
Phil Liggett will be guest of honor at KOM Reception Friday night
Cycling enthusiasts enjoy a 35-mile trek that starts at Snow Summit Mountain Resort, and snakes over to Big Bear Lake’s north shore on Hwy. 38. From there participants are treated to Big Bear’s scenic beauty as they head west down Hwy. 18. This takes them to the turnaround point at Snow Valley Mountain Resort. The cyclists then head back to Snow Summit where they cross through the official Amgen Tour of California finish line arch. The course ride is supported by guides and a full-support crew. There is also a self-timed section on the course that gives participants a read-out of their times that they can compare with the professional race leaders.
In addition to riding 35 miles of the Stage 6 course King of the Mountain Experience participants get certain privileges others do not. Race day perks include V.I.P. finish line area seating, free bike valet, commemorative event tech T-shirt, raffle drawings, finisher’s medal, and limited edition number plate. There is also a V.I.P. reception after the race at Black Diamond Tavern that includes appetizers, no-host bar and cycling celebrities such as Phil Liggett, the official announcer of the race. Other benefits include pre-event bike check lube & tune, discount food and lodging, and Thursday night tour viewing party.
King of the Mountain Experience is Friday, May 18 at the Amgen Tour of California Stage 6 Finish Line at Snow Summit Mountain Resort, located at 880 Summit Blvd. The glory ride is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., which starts and finishes at Snow Summit. Entry fee is $150 per person.
Peter Sagan edged out Heinrich Hausller (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Michael Matthews of Rabobank Cycling Team in an exciting finish to Stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California.
The riders left Sonora at 10:35 this morning with another neutral city start. They were cheered on by a local marching band and a large crowd.
At 15 miles out, the average speed was 23 mph. Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Yannick Eijssen (BMC Racing Team) and Bradley White (United Healthcare Pro Cycling Team) made the first attack. It was short lived and the cyclists were back in the peleton within five minutes. Sebastian Salas, a Canadian riding for Optum Presented By Kelly Benefit Strategies, took the first King of the Mountain.
As the riders progressed down historic Hwy 49 (named for the year of the Gold Rush) 11 riders formed a breakaway. The break included Markel Irizar Aranburu (RadioShack-Nissan), Benjamin King (RadioShack-Nissan), Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Yannick Eijssen (BMC Racing Team), Wilco Kelderman (Rabobank Cycling Team), Alex Howes (Garmin-Barracuda), Timothy Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale), Wesley Sulzberger (Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team), Mikael Cherel (AG2R La Mondiale), Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Colombia-Coldeportes) and Carlos Julian Quintero (Colombia-Coldeportes).
As the breakaway group approached the second KOM, the gap increased to five minutes. The second KOM was a category 2 climb reaching 2,288 feet, just past the 39 mile marker.
It was a scorching day as riders passed through the feed zone. The riders were trying to beat the heat using ice packs. But the heat took its toll causing a total of six riders to abandon the race. Only five riders dropped during the previous three days.
As the breakaway group entered Mariposa, the gap dwindled to three minutes 40 seconds. Plenty of people turned out to encourage the riders as they faced three, almost back-to-back, KOM’s.
Between KOM #4 and KOM #5, the riders cooled themselves with downhill speeds of 53 mph. The gap was reduced to one minute and 20 seconds. After KOM #5 there was another sprint at the 78.3 mile mark in Oakhurst. It was taken by Alex Howes (Garmin-Barracuda).
After Oakhurst, the course said goodbye to the majestic beauty of the Sierra Nevadas. Team RadioShack-Nissan set a tough pace. They were trying to shake Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) and hoping to split the field at the top of Crane Valley Road (3700’).
With one kilometer to go on the climb, Columbia-Coldeportes rider Michael Rodriguiz broke from the peleton. His home town is Bogota, which sits at an elevation of 8,000 feet. Bram Tankink (Rabobank Cycling Team) and Mikael Cherel (AG2R La Mondiale) joined Rodriguez, followed by Brian Vandborg (Spidertech Powered By C10). Rodriguez powered through to take the last King of the Mountain. Meanwhile, Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) was grimacing under the pressure of the pace, while Peter Sagan looked comfortable.
At the 86 mile mark, the main field was stretched and riders have adopted aero-positions. Tim Duggan, who was in an earlier breakaway, set a strong pace and narrowed the gap to 15 seconds. No one wanted to let Brian Vandborg (Spidertech Powered By C10) get much of an advantage. And, with 40 miles to go, the break was reabsorbed.
Riders were treated to a view of Yosemite on their left while the terrain formed in favor of the sprinters. Team Liquigas-Cannondale stayed at the front of the main group, discussed strategies and remained confident.
The lead of the peleton continued to change hands, but as the riders completed 98 miles, Liquigas-Cannondale reappeared at the front and increased the average speed to 24 mph. Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) managed to pull himself back in the race. He is a superb athlete who has won nine races so far this year, including the Tour of Flanders.
Having climbed 15,000 feet, the sprinters have managed to survive today’s heat. Tim Duggan at the front of the field slowed the pace a bit and gave the riders a brief respite. It’s so hot the referees decided to extend the feeding zone to the last 15 kilometers. Normally riders stop picking up food and beverages at the 30 kilometer mark.
With less than 20 miles to go, BMC moved their team to the front of the peleton, keeping their eyes on the Rabobank leader. As they took a left, Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) punctured his tire. Fortunately it was nothing serious and he was able to motor-pace back into the race.
As they left the tree behind, a confident Peter Sagan was snacking in the middle of the group just behind the three leaders (Team Cervelo, Team Omega Pharma-QuickStep and Team Rabobank). The BMC Racing Team began riding as a block. At 9.8 miles, Jonathan Clarke of United Health Care opened up a small gap. He continued to 7 ½ miles with a five second advantage.
Once the cyclists hit the 10 kilometer mark, the teams organized. Teams like AG2R La Mondiale were looking for their first win of the season. Heinrich Haussler moved into position as he approached five miles to Clovis. Tom Boonen hooked up with his team’s train (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and stayed in fifth place, while the rest of the field stretched out.
Team Bontrager Livestrong launched a sudden attack off the front, but team Omega Pharma-QuickStep didn’t panic until Dave Zabriske (Garmin-Barracuda) launched unexpectedly. Since he’s infamous for his time trials, he forced everyone to chase him, disrupting team discipline. He was followed by Josh Atkins of Bontrager Livestrong Team. Zabriske ran towards the finish line at 28 mph. But then, he looked over his shoulder!
With a thousand meters to go, Omega Pharma-QuickStep had Tom Boonen in position. Sagan was in the center with Heinrich Haussler on his back tire. Sagan once again proved his strength and sprinting abilities by powering past everyone to cross the finish first. Hausller found himself second with Michael Matthews of Rabobank Cycling Team finishing third.