Tuesday, November 13 , 2018, 9:58 pm | Fair 55º


Amgen Tour of California Cyclists Take to the Streets in Santa Barbara

Riders cross the starting line on Cabrillo Boulevard en route to Santa Clarita for Stage 5 of the race

Racers start Stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California on Thursday along Santa Barbara’s beachfront on Cabrillo Boulevard.
Racers start Stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California on Thursday along Santa Barbara’s beachfront on Cabrillo Boulevard. (Fritz Olenberger photo)

With the sky still dropping a small amount of rain, fans lined Santa Barbara's Cabrillo Boulevard on Thursday to watch some of the world's best cyclists begin Stage 5 of the 2015 Amgen Tour of California. 

The 700-mile race, which breaks down into eight stages across the state, began May 10 in Sacramento and will end in Pasadena on May 17.

Santa Barbara played host for the starting line of Stage 5, which sent riders from the beach to the city of Santa Clarita, a 96-mile race with a whopping 7,600-foot elevation gain.  

The Stage 5 cyclist in first place was Mark Cavendish, winner of the Visit California Sprint Jersey, and Thursday was the third day in a row he won the sprinting jersey.

In second place was Zico Waeytens of Team Giant-Alpecin and in third place was Peter Sagan of Tinkoff-Saxo. Sagan won first place on in Wednesday's Stage 4 of the race, which spanned from Pismo Beach to Avila Beach, winding through some of northern Santa Barbara County.

Mark Cavendish, shown here before the start of Thursday's stage, has won the sprinting jersey three days in a row during the Amgen Tour of California. (Fritz Olenberger photo)

On Thursday, cyclists wound their way through Montecito and Carpinteria and then descended down Highway 150 toward Ojai. The riders then passed through Santa Paula and encountered Balcom Canyon's steep climb before riding on Highway 126 for a 13-mile stretch to Santa Clarita.

Santa Barbara has hosted the event six times in the race's 10-year history, and Thursday's start was more low-key than last year's finish line. 

In 2014, the race stage began at the Pismo Beach Pier and ended with an exciting finish as cyclists sped down Highway 154, down Las Positas Road and through the Mesa and onto Cabrillo Boulevard towards thousands of cheering fans. Triple-digit temperatures added to the drama as cyclists gutted out the excruciating climb over the San Marcos Pass from the Santa Ynez Valley.

Thursday's impending rain storm may have discouraged more fans from coming out, and the event was more subdued as the cyclists began the race stage on Cabrillo Boulevard, warming up on the stretch of road near Garden Street as light drizzle fell from the sky.

Amgen Tour of California Stage 4 winner Peter Sagan and Matthew Goss prepare for the start of Stage 5 in Santa Barbara on Thursday. (Fritz Olenberger photo)

In spite of the weather, the event managed to draw cycling diehards to watch the race begin midday Thursday.

Cyclist Beau Boggs was decked out in his racing gear and standing with his bicycle, just feet away from the starting line.

One of the Amgen riders tossed Boggs his bright green cycling cap just before the starting gun went off.

Boggs was excited to catch the cap, and told Noozhawk after the race started that he and about 10 other riders had traveled from Indianapolis, Indiana, to ride the race stages on their own as part of the Breakaway from Cancer Masters Cycling Team.

Race fans came out to watch Thursday's start of the Amgen Tour of California in Santa Barbara. (Fritz Olenberger photo)

The team had experienced some great cycling in California, including some "good climbs" during the multiple stages, he said.

The 2015 Amgen Tour of California will continue Friday. The men's and women's time trials were moved from their original location planned at Big Bear Lake due to snow and rain.

Instead, they'll compete at a 6.6 mile loop beginning in the Six Flags Magic Mountain parking lot and race officials said that the relatively flat course could yield a surprise victor.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Toms Skujins, shown in the yellow leader's jersey, is first in the overall standings for the Amgen Tour of California. (Fritz Olenberger photo)

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