Cycling fans will be happy to know that the Amgen Tour of California is returning to San Francisco this year. Tour leaders released the map earlier this week, and San Francisco holds the second stage spot, meaning that on May 14 the peloton will be screaming its way through our city—albeit briefly—en route to Aptos.
Last year, the Tour skipped San Francisco, hitting up nearby Modesto and Livermore, before ending the 8-day course in Los Angeles. But this year it’s back in our city, for Stage 2, and bound to one of the most exciting (and certainly prettiest) legs of the tour.
The San Francisco tour starts in the Marina Green and makes its way through the Presidio, out to the Great Highway, along Highway 1, and ends in Aptos, just south of Santa Cruz. The 117-mile course has a little bit of everything: steep climbs, sprints, fast descents, and some really tight turns. It should be a great all around stage for any race fan.
Last year was a tough one for the Tour of California. Stage 1 was scheduled for Tahoe, but it dumped snow on the course that morning, forcing the teams to skip the first leg and head for lower ground. This year, the Tour launches in Santa Rosa, home to three-time Tour de California winner and local legend, Levi Leipheimer.
If you want to get a good view of Stage 2, you might want to pedal your way south. There are plenty of sweet viewpoints along the way, including ones near Pacifica and Half Moon Bay. But the height, literally, of the action will be Bonnie Doon in Santa Cruz. This steep accent decided the winner in past races and will likely do the same again this year. So if you’re a polka dot jersey fan, it might be worth it to spend the day there.
Want to be even more in the center of the action? The Tour is still accepting volunteers for the SF stage. And if you’re more of a high-roller, there are VIP packages available, where you can watch the tour from a special screening area, and even from the inside of an official course vehicle. But really, if you’re a local, you probably know a nice lookout in the Presidio that would do just as well.
For a more detailed look at the Stage 2 route, check out this turn by turn video.