L’Etape California starts here!

L’Etape California starts here!

By Kristine Keables

Folsom’s Palladio will host 1,500 cycling enthusiasts on Oct. 28 as they tackle L’Etape California – a course which mirrors the style of the Tour de France but features the terrain of the rolling Sierra foothills and towering Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Organized by the Tour de France geniuses, the course has been designed for mere mortals who can now get a first-hand experience at such a race. They can pit their skills against their fellow riders with a quick solo breakaway or a close battle all while enjoying some postcard-worthy scenery.

There are 60-mile and 90-mile options – and both start and finish in Folsom at Palladio. Riders on the 60-mile route will loop around picturesque Folsom Lake at ascend more than 4,500 feet as they tackle a category 2 and 3 climb. The 90-mile course adds an extra loop least toward the gold town of Foresthill. It includes an extra 3,000 feet of climbing and a category 4 climb.

On Saturday, Oct. 27, a lifestyle expo begins at 11 a.m. at Palladio. Activities for families, music and food will be featured. Experience a virtual Tour de France race at the traveling Tour de France Museum. At 2 p.m., Andy Schleck, the 2010 Tour de France winner will be the star of a question and answer session. Plus, Schleck will be one of the riders challenging the course.

The 8 a.m. wave of a mass-start cycling event is always a thrill. The sight of a large swarm of colorful riders along with the sound and the energy are not to be missed. As they leave Palladio on Broadstone Parkway, they will cross East Bidwell and head north on Empire Ranch Road. The route can be found at L’Etapecalifornia.com.
There are three “King of the Mountain” peaks on the route and its always fun to watch the tactics and raw power of the riders racing to the summit. For the riders, timing your attack just right means victory is yours. Get it wrong and all can be lost in a pedal stroke. The hardest climb on the route is the category 2 climb on Salmon Falls Road – it starts just past the scenic Salmon Falls Bridge. It’s a prime location to watch the action.


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