The 11th edition of the Amgen Tour of California starts on 15th May, overlapped by the four-stage women’s race on 19th May. Rapha will be following the action with the Mobile Cycle Club, or ‘Tillie’, hosting rides and serving espresso from the roadside of the race. Here, we profile Rapha’s three professional teams competing, and offer up a schedule of Tillie’s movements during the Tour.
The circus is coming to town, at least it feels that way watching the frenzy of final preparations for the professional peloton’s arrival on the West Coast, for the Tour of California. In the build up to the race you’ll find the domestic professionals out on the roads finessing their form, the WorldTour riders filling their Instagram feeds with shots of Californian palms and In-N-Out burgers, and the fans getting ready to see world class racing on home turf. As usual, Rapha will be there every day to cheer on our three pro teams, pull roadside shots of espresso at Tillie, the Mobile Cycle Club, and play host to rides and events all over the great state of California.
For anyone who has followed the Tour of California since its early days, it feels like the race has finally come of age, although that’s not to say that maturity has diminished the fun- and feel-good factor. The race used to be seen as early season tune-up for the European teams – ridden ‘Kaiser-style’ to lose the winter pounds, with just a bottle of water and half an energy bar per stage. But now it’s a major stage-race over some serious mountains, with a field that includes World and Olympic Champions. Add into the mix a smattering of domestic, USA-based, teams hungry to prove themselves against WorldTour contenders, and you have something potentially very exciting on your hands.
The real highlight of the Amgen Tour of California (aside from our limited edition cap collaboration, to be announced soon) is that, for the first time ever, Rapha’s three professional teams will be in action at the same race – with so many athletes in the race, we’ll be hoarse from cheering by the time we get to Sacramento. And who are these teams? Here’s a quick rundown for those who need to be in-the-know:
Rio looms large for Team Wiggins and their squad of Olympic hopefuls. The team will spend the week as scalp-hunting opportunists, attacking partly in search of glory and partly to ensure some quality training miles. Wiggins himself has won this race before, and it’s not wise to bet against a rider with his palmarès, even if he is carrying the extra bulk that track disciplines require.
(A quick aside on Team Wiggins: a few of their number were born in 1997. What were you doing in 1997? Chances are that it wasn’t going through the early stages of natal development. Also, this means that many of them cannot legally drink in the USA, so think twice before the beer handups on Gibraltar, or at least come up with clever way of checking IDs at the base of the climb.)
The women of CANYON//SRAM have made some serious headway in the Women’s WorldTour, taking podiums and victories in each month of the year (to use an old-school barometer of cycling success). But the battlegrounds of the spring campaign are behind us now and the Amgen Tour of California’s four stages will represent the longest and most varied race of the season so far – having risen to every challenge presented to them, how will CANYON//SRAM fare?
The smart money is on a stage win and a shot at the overall title. The race’s decisive day is Stage 3 into Santa Rosa, when the women will tackle the Queen of the Mountain climb on Coleman Valley Roa twice. Anyone who has witnessed the ferocity of racing in the Women’s WorldTour so far can tell you that a team like CANYON//SRAM has the potential to do damage on any stage.
Cycling fans are constantly being pointed towards the ‘race-within-the-race’ – the march to the base of key climbs, the blows struck to get in the early break, and the other moments of drama that fill a stage race. But with a team like Sky the Amgen Tour of California is a chance to understand the team dynamic. California, with its mix of climbing, time trials, and sprint stages, is a near-perfect proving ground for riders wanting to make their mark and move up in the team’s internal ranks. Selfless domestiques will bury themselves to prove their worth in the Grand Tours, while ambitious riders like Peter Kennaugh will be in it to win it. Expect to see the boys in black and blue towards the sharp end of every stage.
Cycling lore is filled with tales of fans/fanatics turning the roadside into an impromptu party venue – think of Dutch corner on Alpe d’Huez, or the raucous Norwegians on the north-eastern corner of the Jardin des Tuileries on the final day of the Tour. It’s in this spirit that Tillie, the Mobile Cycle Club, travels with the Amgen Tour of California.
Join us at Tillie for great espresso, a TV showing the race’s live feed, and a limited stock of Rapha’s limited edition Amgen Tour of California cap collaboration. It’s the only place to be, we promise.
The best way to keep up with Tillie’s movements is to follow the @Rapha_Tillie Instagram and Twitter accounts. Things happen, situations change, but Tillie’s social media will keep you informed of it all.
Follow @Rapha_Tillie // Instagram // Twitter
May 13th – An evening with Ben Watson, Rapha Pop-Up LA
Just before the racing gets under way, Ben Watson, Executive Creator Director of Herman Miller, will be presenting a talk on the company’s 10 tenets of design, and give an inside look at an upcoming collaboration with Rapha.
May 17th – Ride up Gibraltar – Santa Barbra
Road conditions and bad weather have prevented the Amgen Tour of California from taking on the Gibraltar climb before, but this year the peloton won’t be spared the effort. We’ll be leading a ride from Santa Barbara before watching the race from the slopes, watching the action up close.
May 20th – Autographs with Team Wiggins and espresso from a National Champion – Folsom
Follow @Rapha_Tillie for details.
Friday is time trial day at the Amgen Tour of California, leaving the racers with a bit more time on their hands than they are used to. We’ll be helping Team Wiggins fill that time with an autograph session at the Mobile Cycle Club, and British National Champion Peter Kennaugh will drop in to show us his espresso pulling skills.
May 21st – Post-race autographs with CANYON//SRAM – Santa Rosa
Follow @Rapha_Tillie for details.
The Mobile Cycle Club will be parked in downtown Santa Rosa to catch Stage 3 of the women’s race. Find Tillie for fresh espresso, limited edition caps, and post-race autographs with CANYON//SRAM.
May 22nd – Team Sky Autograph signing – Sacramento
Follow @Rapha_Tillie for details.
We finish up the week with coffee and autographs with Team Sky, the best team in pro cycling (we’re biased, we know). Tillie will be parked on the day’s finishing circuit for both the men’s and women’s races.
May 22nd – A post-race ride with – San Francisco Cycle Club
Join us at CCSF on Monday, May 23rd following the finish of the Tour Of California for a ride with the women of . The ride will meet for coffee at 10:00am and depart at 10:30am for a classic loop around San Francisco.
May 23rd – Rapha Performance Panel Discussion
With riders and representatives from Rapha’s professional teams in one place – a rare occasion in the hectic world of racing – we couldn’t let the opportunity pass to hear their thoughts on performance, racing, and their kit. Joining the racers will be a couple of our own garment and technology experts, and a designer from Herman Miller, offering a different perspective on performance and technology.
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