Tour of California to replace motorcycles with electric motos during time trial

Organisers say that e-motos could cut 1,400 pounds of CO2 emissions in just one day of usage

The Amgen Tour of California has announced a partnership with California-based Zero Motorcycles to use electric motorcycles during the crucial Stage 6 Big Bear Lake time trial on May 19. The time trial begins at an elevation of 6,752 feet, is 14.2 miles long and climbs a total of 400 feet.

As well as being less damaging to the environment, the e-motos are being touted as athlete friendly and ideal for cycling race support because there are no harmful chemicals for the riders to inhale.

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“We’re thrilled to partner with the Amgen Tour of California in bringing electric motorcycles to this prestigious race,” said Todd Andersen, VP of Marketing, Sales and Aftersales at Santa Cruz-based Zero Motorcycles. “We’re excited at the prospect of growing our relationship to expand the use of Zeros across even more stages of the Amgen TOC in the coming years.”

The motorcycles, designed and built in California, make virtually no sound, which has the additional benefit that riders’ race radio communication isn’t compromised, no matter how close the moto gets to the cyclist.

Last year’s time trial was won by Rohan Dennis of BMC Racing, who completed the 20.3km course in a blistering time of 24 minutes and 16 seconds.

The overall win went to Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep). Previous winners include Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) in 2015, Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) in 2014, and Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) in 2013.

Watch highlights of stage six of the 2016 Tour of California

This year, the race was elevated to WorldTour level as part of the UCI’s expansion of its top tier of pro racing.

“Zero Motorcycles will be a valuable addition to the Big Bear Time Trial stage this year, while also furthering our sustainability efforts for the race overall,” said Kristin Klein, Amgen Tour of California president and executive vice president of AEG Sports.

With more than a hundred riders expected to take on the challenging time trial course, nearly 1,800 miles of total road distance is expected to be covered not only by the racers, but the eight photographers, five police, three VIP/media and one lead motorcycle for each cyclist.

Approximate calculations indicate that conventional bikes would produce 1,400 pounds of CO2 emissions during the stage.