CANYON//SRAM Racing will have their first race on American soil when they start at the Amgen Tour of California Breakaway from Heart Disease Women's Race empowered by SRAM. The four day stage race starts on 19 May with the opening stage in South Lake Tahoe, California. Alena Amialiusik will lead a strong team in what is also the first UCI Women's WorldTour race in North America.
In the 2015 edition of the Californian stage race, Amialiusik finished third on a similar opening stage. Although the finish climb has changed, Amialiusik expects it to be a tough finish. "From what I've read the first stage has the same loop around Lake Tahoe as stage one in 2015, but the same final climb from last year's second stage. I think the biggest split in the peloton will only come in the last 500m or so. I'm looking forward to some nice Californian weather and no snow this year!"
The tour organisers are continuously raising the platform for women's cycling in North America, each year expanding the stage race alongside the men's Amgen Tour of California. The 2016 edition adds an additional day and gains Women's WorldTour status. The second stage brings a new format to the women's tour with a team time trial in Folsom.
The 20.3km TTT course will be critical in determining the general classification and Amialiusik can't wait to bring the team's strength to stage two. "We raced only one TTT together in April and even though this will be on road bikes we're all looking forward to the second stage on Friday. I believe we have a strong team and it will put us in contention for the overall."
Stage three, a rolling 111km course finishes with three local circuits in Santa Rosa. A 2.5km QOM climb at Coleman Valley Road won't be easy with an average gradient of 9.7%. But a possible split in the peloton has the potential to come back together with still over 50km of racing remaining. "For me the more climbs there are the better. I haven't raced around that area before so I'm excited to see what stage three offers. No doubt there will be a lot of fans and it creates an exciting atmosphere to finish in downtown Santa Rosa."
Amialiusik was also part of team mate Trixi Worrack's general classification win in 2015. "From last year's final stage in Sacramento I have some really nice (and hard!) memories of helping Trixi move into the leader's jersey and take the overall win. She's not here racing but I think the final stage suits all the riders on our team and it is an advantage for us as a team."
Team Directeur Sportif Ronny Lauke said the team is highly anticipating its first race in North America. "This race is a great platform for the global development of women's cycling and we're pleased to support it with a full team. Our riders are all coming off a break from racing after a long spring campaign. As the women's race is sponsored by SRAM and many of our partners are based in the U.S it's even more important for us to represent in the best possible fashion. I expect the racing to be fast and aggressive and that our riders are fully motivated to perform."
Amialiusik will be joined by Barbara Guarischi, Hannah Barnes, Tiffany Cromwell, Lisa Brennauer and Californian local Alexis Ryan to make a strong roster for CANYON//SRAM Racing. The racing action can be followed on the team's Twitter @WMNcycling.
Stage 1 South Lake Tahoe, 117km, 10:50hrs PDT
Stage 2 Folsom TTT, 20.3km, 10:30hrs PDT
Stage 3 Santa Rosa, 111km, 09:15hrs PDT
Stage 4 Sacramento, 66km, 11:40hrs PDT
By Beth Duryea