Amgen Tour of California organisers today confirmed that they had to make changes to the Queen stage on the second day of the race because of road damage remaining from the deadly debris flows that claimed 21 lives in Montecito last January.
The change comes toward the end of the 155km second stage that starts in Ventura and finishes near the top of Gibraltar Road just outside of Santa Barbara. Approaching Montecito from the southeast, the race will skip the original route on Highway 192 that passed through some of the affected hillside residential neighborhoods, choosing instead to take a road through the centre of Montecito near Highway 1 and meeting up with the original route on the other side of town.
The area suffered two major natural disasters last winter. In December, the largest wildfire on record in Southern California swept through Ventura County where the race starts. In January, heavy rains battered the damaged landscape, causing massive mudslides in Montecito that washed away homes and damaged roadways in a deadly wake of destruction.
“Once we saw the fire come through the whole route we knew we had a lot of work to do,” said Eric Smith, the Tour of California’s course director.
Smith and his crew immediately drove the affected roads to check for any damage. Initially, everything on the route was OK. Then the rains came.
“Once that happened we were checking with the county and checking with Caltrans and found all the damage and the roads that were closed,” Smith said. “We quickly made an assessment that they wouldn’t be reopening that road [Highway 192] until well after the race.”
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