SONORA TO CLOVIS
At 130 miles, Stage 4 is the longest stage of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California, and possibly the most difficult. This will be the race’s first visit to Sonora, a town that many consider to be the most preserved Gold Rush town in California. There is no question about the important role that Sonora played in the Gold Rush, and today it serves as both the gateway to Yosemite National Park (just 75 miles away) and the seat of Tuolumne County. Sonora has California history written all over it, and you need to look no further than the location of the Stage 4 race start. As the riders roll south from the start, it will be easy to imagine what it was like more than 150 years ago as wagons rolled down the same roads.
As the riders head south towards Mariposa and Oakhurst (both Sprint cities), they will enjoy the incredible beauty and challenge of historic Highway 49. As they skirt Yosemite, they will encounter everything from numerous KOMs, twisty and technical descents, and raging rivers, but very few sections of flat roadway. Once through Mariposa, Highway 49 widens a bit, but two more KOMs will await the cyclists as they head to the final Sprint in Oakhurst. The riders will no doubt be fearless as they attack the final 40 miles into the return to Clovis, perhaps recalling the snow and ice along this same route in 2009.
What better way to help celebrate Clovis’ 100th anniversary than to watch a thundering peloton sprint to the same finish won by Mark Cavendish in 2009. Clovis is another city belonging to California’s Gateway to Yosemite and is home to the world-famous Clovis Rodeo.