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