Tour of California sets tough route for 2016

The eleventh edition of the race between San Diego and Sacramento will feature 2014 winner Sir Bradley Wiggins ahead of the Rio Olympics

(Image credit: Watson)

The route for the 2016 Tour of California has been revealed, with the eleventh edition of the race starting in San Diego and travelling north across eight stages to the overall finish in the state capital Sacramento on May 22.

Sir Bradley Wiggins has confirmed he will participate in the race as he prepares for the Olympic road race in Rio that August.

Wiggins won this race in 2014 but was not present for the 2015 edition, which was won by current world champion Peter Sagan.

The race will begin in San Diego with stage one starting and finishing in the city, before the race heads to South Pasadena for the start of stage two, which looks likely to end in a sprint finish in Santa Clarita, hosting a stage of the tour for the eleventh time.

The general classification contenders will get their first big test in stage three, with a mountaintop finish at Gibraltar Road making its first appearence in the Tour of California.

Stage four will take place between two first-time hosts, Morro Bay and Monterrey County, before the GC riders tackle a long day of climbing on stage five between Lodi and South Lake Tahoe which will feature the highest elevation ever included in the Tour of California, a whopping 8,600 feet above sea level.

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The Tour of California Women's Race, the first US event on inaugral UCI Women's World Tour, will also run in conjunction with the men's race from stage five onwards and will start and finish from the same cities, with the exception of stage five which for the women will start and finish from South Lake Tahoe.

Stage six returns to the scene of Bradley Wiggins' emphatic victory in the 2014 edition's time trial with a circuit against the clock around Folsom that could prove decisive for the overall classification. Stage six of the women's race will feature a team time trial around the same course.

Stage seven will incorporate a section of Levi's Gran Fondo, the amateur race run by three-time Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer, and will start and finish in Santa Rosa, before the final stage of the race starts and finishes in Sacramento.

Wiggins will be looking to become the third European winner in a row and the fourth in five years following Robert Gesink's win in 2012.

The Tour of California has been kind to European riders in the past, with all four classification winners from the 2015 race coming from Europe.

Overall winner Peter Sagan was joined on the final podium by points classification winner Mark Cavendish, king of the mountains Daniel Oss and Julian Alaphilippe who took the jersey for best young rider.

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