SONORA (CBS13) – An estimated 10,000 people packed into downtown Sonora to see the start of Stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California on Wednesday morning.
“I am keeping my competitors in check for this jersey,” said cyclist Sebastian Salas, referring to his King of the Mountains jersey as the top climber. “Right from the gun you have to be watchful and aggressive.”
Fans came out in droves to see athletes from more than 20 countries race through the gold country.
“I want to win this jersey more than anything,” Salas said. “This is my first year to be able to make an impression on this race and wear this jersey would be beyond my wildest dreams.”
Stage 4 is one of many where riders face warm weather, tough hills and heavy terrain – all with one goal: to make it to the finish line first.
“They start climbing and there are a series of climbs and descents between here and Oakhurst,” Sonora stage organizer Darrell Slocumb said. “That is about 79 miles. They will experience drastic changes in terrain.”
Many say Wednesday’s race is the most difficult portion of the city-to-city race.
At 130 miles, it’s the longest stage of this year’s Amgen – and fans were loving it!
“It was just fabulous,” one spectator said. “Heart-pounding!”
This is the first time Amgen has been in the gold rush town of Sonora, and many are hoping it won’t be the last.
“I can’t even tell you how exciting this is,” Slocumb said. “We are so grateful to have it here. It’s a big deal for any city to host this.”
The stage ended in Clovis and the race moves on to Bakersfield on Thursday. It wraps up Sunday in Los Angeles.