The second year under the ASO/Tour de France umbrella will see some changes for the L'Étape California.

In 2018, L'Étape California By Le Tour De France, to give the event its full name, will not follow the route of one of the stages of the Amgen Tour of California as it has since its start.

It will also take place later in the year, after the pro event.

"We're aiming to move our event to the Summer in 2018 instead of the Spring," said Ryan Ung, director of L'Étape California.

"Since the event is Tour de France branded it isn't necessarily going to be an exact course of the Amgen Tour of California because we're keeping the events distinct," he continued.

The route for L'Étape is still under wraps for now.

Given the host cities for the 2018 Amgen Tour unveiled recently, it was always going to be difficult to create a workable route for a mass amateur event.

The three stages which offer the climbing that is a defining feature of the Etape series suffer from significant distances between start and finish, even as the crow flies. That presents real logistical issues for a gran fondo that are of no concern to a pro race.

Basically, how does everyone get home?

Not having to follow the pro course exactly will allow Ryan and his team flexibility to come up with better courses for the amateur.

The downside is that you lose the buzz of riding precisely the same pavement as the elite peloton. No watching among the best in world climb the same slopes a few weeks later, no way to say "I rode that stage ... just a lot slower," and no shared Strava statistics with Sagan.

In August, the event's Facebook teased: "Where will the 2018 ride take us? We're diligently planning next year's route and location..." alongside the mountainous picture below.

The teaser. Credit: L'Étape California
That is not surprising given the event's self-description: "L'Etape California by Le Tour de France is a ride designed to challenge cyclists on a course comparable to an Alps Mountain stage of the world's most well-known cycling race."

Josh Mott rode the 2017 event that scaled Mt. Baldy for Read his report here.

If I were a gambling man (and I am occasionally), I'd put my money on the 2018 L'Etape featuring part of Stage 6 from Folsom to South Lake Tahoe rather than a third year in a row in Southern California. Perhaps a loop route from the lake finishing on the same roads as the pros.

Riders throw shadows heading for the top in 2017. Credit: L'Étape California
L'Étape California By Le Tour De France is part of the 14 event L'Étape series around the globe.

The original L'Étape over a Tour de France stage is the granddaddy of them all and a bucket list event on the world gran fondo scene since 1993. It is in the French Alps this year on July 8 and is a tough 105 miles and 15,600 feet of climbing, much of it towards the end of the day.

All 10,000 places on general sale were snapped up in under four days.

 Read's analysis of the 2018 Etape.

2018 Amgen Tour of California

The Amgen Tour of California will move from south to north, starting in Long Beach and finishing in Sacramento, with the biggest days looking like Stage 2 from Ventura to Santa Barbara over Gibraltar Road and Stage 6 from Folsom to South Lake Tahoe. The women's peloton will race the last three days with the stage to the 6,500-foot finish at Tahoe one of the biggest climbs on the UCI Women's WorldTour.

Sunday, May 13          Stage 1 - Long Beach

Monday, May 14         Stage 2 - Ventura to Santa Barbara County (Gibraltar Road)

Tuesday, May 15         Stage 3 - King City to Monterey County (Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca)

Wednesday, May 16   Stage 4 - San Jose (Time Trial)

Thursday, May 17       Stage 5/1 Women - Stockton to Elk Grove

Friday, May 18            Stage 6/2 Women  - Folsom to South Lake Tahoe

Saturday, May 19        Stage 7/3 Women - Sacramento