Palomar Mountain IS BACK!!!
A Taste of California
The Amgen Tour of California returned to Palomar Mountain to the race course for the first time since 2009. Last time the ascent of Palomar saw record crowds and a festival atmosphere befitting any classic climb of the Tour de France.
Stage 8 in 2009 the much anticipated climb up Palomar Mountain saw huge crowds worthy of the Tour de France. Apparently some people had driven out in their campers the previous evening to claim a prime viewing spot (a standing tradition at the Tour). For the final mile there was a canyon of humanity creating all sorts of enthusiastic support for the race. I have been to both the Pyrenees and the Alps for the Tour de France and today the Amgen ToCal crowds easily matched their European brethren. There is something about the high altitudes that turns the whole affair into one monster party. People dress up in the weirdest outfits, barbecues are smoking away and everyone is talking to everyone. The cares of the world seem to have disappeared in the thin air.
Palomar Mountain is a brute of a climb. The snow covered upper slopes were melting in the mild spring air. As a result the riders often had to pass through running water and grit and gravel being washed off the slopes. Once the TV helicopters arrived overhead the Euro atmosphere was complete.
By any measure, this race had the cream of the pro peloton riding. This really was bike racing at its very best. The Amgen ToCal has in a short history created all of the elements that define a world class event. They obviously have a great organization. They attract the world's best riders and most importantly of all the event draws massive public support. It will be some years yet before Grand Tour status can be discussed in earnest, but if the ToCal can carry on building this great race, then the sky is the limit.
Palomar Mountain IS BACK!!! Get there if you can!!!
Stage 1 Profile [courtesy of ToCal]
Race Course Map
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