Riders of this year's L'Etape California will test their legs in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California in early September.

Registration is open.

Climbing Mt. Baldy in 2017. Credit: L'Etape
The 2018 running of L'Etape California will be in the fall for the first time and while Folsom is on the route of the 2018 Tour de California in May L'Etape riders will not ride the same course as the pros, who finish Stage 6 (Stage 2 for the women) at Lake Tahoe.

(We almost called it correctly back in November.)

The reality is that the requirements of a multi-stage pro race with its A-to-B courses does not easily lend itself to the needs of thousands of gran fondo requirements.

2018 Etape CA route profile
The exact route has not been released, but the profile of the 90-mile course reveals a looping course (not an out and back) from the Folsom Palladio at Broadstone, up into the Eldorado National Forest topping out at just over 3,000 feet at the halfway point.

Riders will then have a fast run home back to the Palladio with only a few sharp uphills to interrupt their descent. One of those "bumps" is the Classic Challenge KOM/QOM section with an attention-grabbing 12% grade for its 0.3-mile length. Total climbing is 7,500 feet+.

(Read Josh Mott's report on the 2017 event.)

The main KOM/QOM competition will measure riders over two sections of 5% climbing totaling 6.5 miles in the first 35 miles of the route. The winners earn a place with 15,000 or so others at the original L'Etape du Tour in France in 2019. The placing of the KOM/QOM sections means those who go to hard in search of a ticket to France are going to suffer reaching the top of the course.

Again new for this year, there will be two routes with a shorter 50-mile route with 4,000 feet+ of climbing.

Folsom sits close to Sacramento on Route 50 between the Californian capital and Lake Tahoe.

The city promotes itself as the premier cycling destination in the Sierra foothills with a wealth of world-class cycling experiences and visitor amenities. These include the popular "Around the Lake" ride, a 50-mile course with beautiful water views leading to the Gold Country foothills, and the 32-mile American River Bike Trail from Folsom to Sacramento.

"The City of Folsom is incredibly proud to host L'Etape California by Le Tour de France. This world-class event brings national and international awareness to Folsom's world-class cycling routes, iconic landmarks, distinctive scenery and bike-friendly community," said Steve Miklos, mayor of Folsom.

"It will be a cycling double header this year with the professional Amgen Tour of California race in May followed by the L'Etape public ride in the fall. The City, our partners and avid cycling community look forward to welcoming competitors and spectators to Folsom."

The rides is, as you would expect, fully supported and riders will receive a medal and photos as well as a meal and entertainment post ride.

The event is a collaboration between entertainment giant AEG and the Amgen Tour of California organizer ASO, owner of the Tour de France and a multitude of top bike races.

On September 1, the day before the ride the event's link to the Tour de France will be on full display. There will be a Cycling and Active Lifestyle Expo with family-friendly activities and vendor booths. Also, attendees can visit the traveling Tour de France Museum to see race visuals through a virtual reality experience, and ask questions to a Tour de France legend in a public Q and A session. Other offerings include French food, a look into French culture and screenings of Tour de France action and movies.

L'Étape California By Le Tour De France is part of the 14 event L'Étape series around the globe, on five continents and involving 50,000 riders.

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 sportive.com's analysis of the 2018 Etape.

L'Etape California finisher medals. Credit: L'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