The ToC was essentially decided after the Solvang TT the past two years, but the addition of Mount Palomar (5,123 feet) offers a new wrinkle. "This is the kind of stage where a few spots in the top 10 will be in jeopardy," says BMC Racing's Tony Cruz, a Long Beach resident who occasionally rides Palomar. "Once it gets whittled down to a select group and guys figure out, oh, so-and-so's not looking so good, that's when the fireworks start."
WATCH: Palomar is steepest toward the top. "The last 4 to 5 kilometers are where the action will happen," Cruz predicts; the 16.1km climb will offer many chances to thin the pack with attacks. Cole Grade, the last real climb, offers "an opportunity for the soloists to go for broke" if the team controlling the race lacks riders up front. Watch closely: There's a steep descent just 5 miles from the end, so a small move could stay away for a stage win.
RIDE: "If you're camping, do a loop around Palomar," says Cruz. One possibility--up the steep South Grade Road the racers will climb, down East Grade to Lake Henshaw and back on Route 76--nets 30 miles.
GEAR: Hidden Valley Bicycle, open since 1961, has just about anything you'll need.
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