For the First Time, America’s Greatest Cycling Race Will Travel South to North, Beginning in Escondido and Crossing Beaches, Deserts, Mountains, Golden Gate Bridge
LOS ANGELES (February 12, 2013) – Changing direction for the first time in its eight-year history from south to north, America’s largest and most prestigious professional cycling stage race, the 2013 Amgen Tour of California, will bring riders and spectators first-time destinations, unprecedented climbs and demanding sprints on the approximately 750-mile course.
Amgen returns as the title sponsor for the heralded 8-stage race, set for May 12 to 19, 2013. Beginning with a circuit in Escondido, the route will run through 13 official host cities and include a first-time finish at the top of Mount Diablo, the 3,864-foot peak in the San Francisco Bay area. The race’s last stage will begin along the San Francisco Bay and continue across the Golden Gate Bridge, where a rolling traffic break will give cyclists uninterrupted access for the six-minute crossing.
Two new cities join the race route roster: Greater Palm Springs and Murrieta will host Stage 2, which will include an intense finish up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, one of the toughest climbs anywhere with an 1,880-foot elevation gain in the last four miles. Two other firsts: Escondido and Santa Rosa will become the first cities in race history to have hosted both an overall start and an overall finish.
“We take great pride in creating challenging, beautiful Amgen Tour of California routes that attract top international riders and showcase the state’s amazing terrain and scenery,” said Kristin Bachochin, executive director of the race and senior vice president of AEG Sports. “We also consider the many fan and rider route suggestions before we settle on a final course. This year will be not only the most competitive but the most spectacular with diverse California scenery, from coastal routes to mountain vistas.”
As one of the most anticipated professional cycling races on the international calendar, the Amgen Tour of California draws top cyclists from the ranks of Olympic medalists, Tour de France competitors and world champions including BMC Racing Team’s current world road champion Philippe Gilbert.
The 2013 Amgen Tour of California will feature the following highlights*:
Stage 1, Presented by Nissan: Sunday, May 12 – Escondido
Start/Finish Location: Broadway and Grand Ave.
Start Time: 11:15 a.m.
Stage Length: 104.3 miles
Expect huge crowds as the Amgen Tour of California returns to San Diego County for the first time since 2009, when record numbers greeted the tour along the course and at the start and finish cities of Rancho Bernardo and Escondido. The 2013 route will include a climb up Mount Palomar, an effort that is often compared to the arduous Alpe d’Huez at the Tour de France.
Stage 2, Presented by Visit California: Monday, May 13 – Murrieta to Greater Palm Springs
Start Location: Murrieta City Hall/Town Square Park
Finish Location: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Start Time: 10:20 a.m.
Stage Length: 126.1 miles
Well versed in staging cycling races, Murrieta has been the host city for the popular Tour of Murrieta for several years. Incorporating a new part of California into the race, this stage will wind south through Temecula Valley Wine Country. Then the riders will tackle the climb up the San Jacinto Mountains to the hamlet of Idyllwild, one of the country’s top mountain biking destinations, before descending into the Coachella Valley and the towns of Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City and Palm Springs. The stage will finish spectacularly as riders climb Tramway Road to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway parking lot. The last 3.8 miles of the race will gain 1,880 feet of elevation – one of the toughest climbs anywhere.
Stage 3: Tuesday, May 14 – Palmdale to Santa Clarita
Start Location: Marie Kerr Park
Finish Location: Magic Mountain Parkway
Start Time: 11:20 a.m.
Stage Length: 111.8 miles
The race will return to host cities Palmdale and Santa Clarita, but will traverse entirely new roads. The stage will feature the 22-mile climb up Lake Hughes Road and follow the route of the famous Furnace Creek 508, the ultra-endurance race through Santa Clarita. The peloton will likely break apart on the massive climb, but an 18-mile descent to the finish will give the riders a chance to regroup and mount a large field sprint toward the finish line.
Stage 4: Wednesday, May 15 – Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara
Start Location: Theater Drive and Town Center
Finish Location: Cabrillo Blvd.
Start Time: 12:35 p.m.
Stage Length: 84.7 miles
Veteran Amgen Tour of California racers will recognize this stage from past races, but they’ll be riding it in reverse. After the desert terrain of Stage 3, they’ll welcome ocean breezes as they descend to the finish in coastal Santa Barbara. They’ll have their work cut out for them: punishing headwinds are a regular feature along the route to Santa Paula, site of the first sprint of the stage. A sprint in Ojai will be preceded by the K.O.M. and technical descent of Dennison Grade. Past Ojai, the climb up Casitas Pass will give way to long downhill and flat finish along the beach in Santa Barbara. There is no question that this stage will favor the sprinters.
Stage 5, Presented by Visit California: Thursday, May 16 – Santa Barbara to Avila Beach
Start Location: Cabrillo Blvd.
Finish Location: Front St.
Start Time 11 a.m.
Stage Length: 116.4 miles
A start along the beach in Santa Barbara will see the race retrace much of its 2006 route, but in reverse order. The riders will continue over the steep and windy San Marcos Pass along state Route 154 before descending into the Lake Cachuma Recreation Area. The racers will then tackle Foxen Canyon Road outside of Los Olivos and pass through Orcutt and the quaint farm town of Guadalupe, which gave the race a warm welcome in 2006. A sprint in Arroyo Grande will foreshadow an anticipated massive sprint to the finish in Avila Beach, which offers a picturesque harbor, quaint shops, a beautiful beach and the opportunity for its 1,700 residents to join thousands of race fans to watch the peloton storm down Front Street in hopes of capturing the stage win.
Stage 6: Friday, May 17 – San Jose (Individual Time Trial)
Start Location: Bailey Ave.
Finish Location: Metcalf Road – Metcalf Motorcycle Park
Start Time: 12:50 p.m.
Stage Length: 19.6 miles
San Jose is a familiar setting for the race; it’s the only city to participate in all eight editions of the Amgen Tour of California. The race returns to the 2006 time trial course for the first three-fourths of the day, with the addition of a wicked stinger at this year’s finish. This 19.6-mile stage features a climb that begins soon after the riders push off the starting ramp. As the racers navigate around beautiful lakes and golf courses, they will begin to prepare for the most difficult finish posed by any Amgen Tour of California time trial course. Once they make the final right-hand turn on the route, they will face the strenuous, three kilometer climb up Metcalf Road to the finish. The riders will gain nearly 1,000 feet in elevation and attack several pitches with a grade of 10 percent or more.
Stage 7, Presented by Nissan: Saturday, May 18 – Livermore to Summit of Mount Diablo
Start Location: 3rd St./Carnegie Park
Finish Location: Mount Diablo – summit parking lot
Start Time: 11:35 a.m.
Stage Length: 93 miles
In all likelihood, the 2013 Amgen Tour of California will be won or lost on the climb to the peak of Mount Diablo. The 92-mile route features several cyclist favorites, including Morgan Territory Road, new to the race this year. The riders will navigate narrow, twisting climbs through bucolic farm country and redwoods before making a roller-coaster descent. The race will return to Patterson Pass Road where they will encounter the infamous “wall,” a short, steep climb toward the end of the road where riders will peddle up grades over 15 percent in the last two kilometers. The peloton will return to Livermore for a sprint, and finally, expect large crowds at Mount Diablo, which historically has attracted some of the largest audiences for a mountain race route. This year, the race will cover an additional 4.5 miles of climbing to the summit, perhaps the greatest viewscape of any mountain in California with breathtaking views up to 200 miles in any direction.
Stage 8, Presented by Amgen: Sunday, May 19 – San Francisco to Santa Rosa
Start Location: Marina Green
Finish Location: 3rd Street and Santa Rosa Ave.
Start Time: 8:15 a.m.
Stage Length: 86.2 miles
We could not have designed a better stage for the finish of 2013 Amgen Tour of California! This stage encompasses some of the most spectacular scenery as it winds through San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, Highway 1, Point Reyes National Seashore, Occidental and Santa Rosa, where the crowds are expected to be the largest ever to see the race conclude. An early race start at Marina Green in San Francisco (dictated by live race coverage on NBC) and a rolling traffic break of the Golden Gate Bridge will ensure the spectacular sight of the peloton descending on the landmark. The bridge sidewalk will remain open to provide spectators the opportunity to cheer on the cyclists racing across the structure.
The race will be capped off by two spectator-friendly finish circuits in downtown Santa Rosa where the winner of the 2013 Amgen Tour of California will be crowned in a special awards ceremony. At the end of the race, the winner and the team who supported him will take top honors for having conquered the longest and most difficult stage race ever mounted in the United States.
Cycling fans can experience the excitement of America’s biggest professional stage race up close and personal by becoming a race volunteer. Race organizers are looking to fill nearly 5,000 volunteer positions. Registration and further information about the various duties available is now available online at www.AmgenTourofCalifornia.com.
For the last five years, title sponsor Amgen has recognized outstanding individuals making a difference for cancer patients and their loved ones in communities across California through the Breakaway from Cancer initiative, designed to raise awareness of the important resources that are available to those affected by cancer – from prevention through survivorship. Four individuals – one from each of the 2013 Amgen Tour of California communities of Escondido, Santa Clarita, Santa Barbara and Livermore – will ultimately be selected as the Breakaway from Cancer Champions. Nominations will be accepted online until Feb. 25 to recognize a cancer survivor, patient, caregiver or advocate for those impacted by cancer. Learn more about becoming a Breakaway from Cancer Champion at www.breakawayfromcancer.com/champions.
About the Amgen Tour of California
The largest cycling event in America, the 2013 Amgen Tour of California is a Tour de France-style cycling road race, created and presented by AEG, that challenges the world’s top professional cycling teams to compete along a demanding course from May 12-19, 2013. For more information, please visit www.AmgenTourofCalifornia.com.
Amgen discovers, develops, manufactures and delivers innovative human therapeutics. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realize the new science’s promise by bringing safe and effective medicines from lab, to manufacturing plant, to patient. Amgen therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, bone disease and other serious illnesses. With a deep and broad pipeline of potential new medicines, Amgen remains committed to advancing science to dramatically improve people’s lives. To learn more about our pioneering science and our vital medicines, visit www.amgen.com. Follow us on www.twitter.com/amgen.
About Breakaway from Cancer
Founded in 2005 by Amgen, Breakaway from Cancer is a national initiative to increase awareness of important resources available to people affected by cancer – from prevention through survivorship. Breakaway from Cancer is a collaboration between Amgen and four nonprofit partner organizations: Prevent Cancer Foundation, Cancer Support Community, Patient Advocate Foundation, and National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship. These organizations offer a broad range of support services complementing those provided by a patient’s team of healthcare professionals. For more information, please visit www.breakawayfromcancer.com or follow us @BreakawayCancer on Twitter and www.facebook.com/BreakawayfromCancer on Facebook.
AEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Anschutz Company, owns or controls a collection of companies including facilities such as STAPLES Center, The Home Depot Center, Sprint Center, The O2, Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE and Best Buy Theater Times Square; sports franchises including the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), two Major League Soccer franchises, two hockey franchises operated in Europe, management of privately held shares of the Los Angeles Lakers, the Bay to Breakers foot race and the Amgen Tour of California cycling road race; AEG Live, the organization’s live-entertainment division, is a collection of companies dedicated to all aspects of live contemporary music performance, touring and a variety of programming and multi-media production. For more information, visit AEG today at www.aegworldwide.com.
*Route and start times are subject to change.
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Eileen Tanner, GolinHarris
FOR THE FIRST TIME, LOCAL CYCLISTS CAN ‘RIDE THE ROUTE’ JUST BEFORE
THE WORLD’S BEST COMPETE IN THE 2012 Amgen Tour of California
‘Nissan Ride before the pros’ INVITES CYCLING FANS and FRIENDS TO ride the route just prior to the world’s best professionals competing in america’s most important cycling race
LOS ANGELES (April 26, 2012) – For the first time in the race’s history, cycling fans and enthusiasts will have the opportunity to participate in the Amgen Tour of California by riding on the actual race course just prior to the eighth and final stage of the 750-mile, Tour de France-style competition.
The ‘Nissan Ride Before the Pros,’ taking place in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday May 20, 2012 from 8-9:30 a.m., will allow cyclists of all levels to ride on a 5-mile, closed-circuit course that will be part of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California’s eighth and final stage taking place that same day. Free to participants of all experience levels, the ‘Nissan Ride Before the Pros’ will begin and end at the official finish line where the professional riders competing in the 2012 Amgen Tour of California will cross to complete the 42.6-mile stage they started in Beverly Hills on Rodeo Drive earlier in the day.
Along the way, riders taking part in the event, which begins at L.A. LIVE at the foot of STAPLES Center, will head up Olive Street passing Pershing Square before a “sprint” past the historic Biltmore Hotel, up a challenging incline while heading towards Disney Hall and the Los Angeles County Music Center. The riders will ultimately reach City Hall and City Hall Park before making a loop back towards the iconic Jewelry District prior to arriving back at L.A. LIVE. Along the way, riders will also pass hundreds of iconic downtown restaurants, businesses, museums and other landmarks with thousands of residents and fans lining the streets cheering them on while waiting for the best professional riders in the world to pass by shortly thereafter for the final stage of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California.
“One of the most often made requests from our fans is for us to provide the opportunity for them to experience our race by riding the actual course like the pros,” said Kristin Bachochin, Executive Director, Amgen Tour of California and Senior Vice President, AEG Sports. “The Nissan Ride Before the Pros will allow all of our fans and the thousands of serious and weekend cyclists the chance to participate in the Amgen Tour of California by riding the same course that the best cyclists in the world will be competing on just minutes later. If you enjoy riding a bike, you won’t want to miss the Nissan Ride Before the Pros in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, May 20.”
Immediately following the ‘Nissan Ride Before the Pros,’ Amgen’s Breakaway Mile will take place as part of Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer®, a national initiative to increase awareness of important resources available to people affected by cancer – from prevention through survivorship. The Breakaway Mile is a special walk that ends at the Stage 8 finish line to honor the millions of cancer survivors worldwide. Participants not only have the opportunity to walk along the race course, but also are invited to view the race action from a special reserved area near the finish line. Registration is limited to the first 150 people. Sign up at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com/breakawaymile.
This year, Beverly Hills and Los Angeles will host the eighth and final stage of America’s most important and popular cycling race, which begins on May 13 in Santa Rosa, Calif., and will end more than 750-miles and eight days later at L.A. LIVE as part of a live television broadcast of the international event, now in its seventh year. Along the way, the world’s best professional riders will race a challenging course over California’s most beautiful and iconic highways, coastline drives, landmarks and landscapes, which will be internationally broadcast live each day to more than 200 countries and territories. On Sunday May 20, the race will begin in Beverly Hills and travel through West Hollywood, Hollywood and Chinatown before finishing at L.A. LIVE. ‘Nissan Ride Before the Pros’ participants will experience a portion of the same intense route shortly before the professional cyclists complete the final stage.
In order to participate in the ‘Nissan Ride Before the Pros,’ interested fans must register prior to the event on the Amgen Tour of California website at amgentourofcalifornia.com/nissan
“Nissan is glad to be back as a sponsor of the Amgen Tour of California for our third consecutive year and is even more excited to kick it up a notch by offering an unprecedented level of access to cyclists of all experience levels,” said Brian Carolin, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Nissan. “The endurance required to complete this eight-day road race takes performance to a whole new level. RadioShack Nissan Trek is back to defend Chris Horner’s leader jersey and our support of this event and the team not only reaffirms our commitment to wellness but also aligns with our goal of reducing environmental impact with innovative, sustainable products.”
During and following the ‘Nissan Ride Before the Pros’ event, fans can enjoy the Lifestyle Festival, the focal gathering point at the end of each stage for the Amgen Tour of California crowds. Located near the finish line at each stage finish, it is the place to be for all cycling enthusiasts. The Lifestyle Festival creates a giant, festive atmosphere for pre- and post-race entertainment. The festival will feature a health and fitness expo, cancer awareness education, cycling gear, family activities, bike safety education, food, entertainment and more! There will be plenty to see and do for fans of all ages.
About the Amgen Tour of California
The largest cycling event in America, the 2012 Amgen Tour of California is a Tour de France-style cycling road race, presented by AEG that challenges the world’s top professional cycling teams to compete along a demanding course from May 13-20, 2012. In a 2011 poll conducted by CyclingNews.com, the Amgen Tour of California was voted the fourth best race in the world, and the No. 1 race in America.
About Nissan North America
In North America, Nissan’s operations include automotive styling, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. Nissan is dedicated to improving the environment under the Nissan Green Program and has been recognized as an ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year in 2010, 2011, and 2012 by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. More information on Nissan in North America and the complete line of Nissan and Infiniti vehicles can be found online at www.NissanUSA.com and www.InfinitiUSA.com.
Amgen discovers, develops, manufactures, and delivers innovative human therapeutics. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realize the new science’s promise by bringing safe, effective medicines from lab to manufacturing plant to patient. Amgen therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, bone disease and other serious illnesses.
With a deep and broad pipeline of potential new medicines, Amgen remains committed to advancing science to dramatically improve people’s lives. To learn more about our pioneering science and vital medicines, visit http://www.amgen.com
AEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Anschutz Company, owns or controls a collection of companies including facilities such as STAPLES Center, The Home Depot Center, Sprint Center, The O2, NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE and Best Buy Theater Times Square; sports franchises including the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), two Major League Soccer franchises, two hockey franchises operated in Europe, management of privately held shares of the Los Angeles Lakers, the ING Bay to Breakers foot race and the Amgen Tour of California cycling road race; AEG Live, the organization’s live-entertainment division, is a collection of companies dedicated to all aspects of live contemporary music performance, touring and a variety of programming and multi-media production. For more information, visit AEG today at www.aegworldwide.com
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Michael Roth, AEG Steven Bram, GolinHarris
America’s top stage race enters post-Lance years as big as ever
By Pete Gauvin • Photos by Doug Pensinger
This year’s Amgen Tour of California may be the most intriguing course in the event’s six-year history. It begins in Tahoe, completes a full loop and a half of the lake, spilling across a state line for the first time into Nevada, like the Tour de France often does into the Swiss Alps or the Spanish Pyrenees.
Indeed, like a brash, upstart American racer, the Tour of California has grown into the international showcase for California and pro cycling that race promoters always thought it could be.
It’s now established itself on the cycling calendar in May near the head of the peloton of elite races even amid the Euro classics. In fact, the eight-day race is the only American race listed on the international professional cycling calendar and takes place right in the middle of Giro d’Italia (May 7-29).
“This is an exciting year for the Amgen Tour of California,” says Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports. “We have a great route that is the most challenging to date and we have the biggest field of teams ever assembled in the race’s history, so we couldn’t be more pleased about this year. Each year it gets more difficult to determine our host cities and roster of teams because the level of interest in our race continues to grow.”
And that growth appears to be continuing with or without Lance Armstrong, cycling’s poster-boy for the masses, who quietly retired from pro competition for a second time in February after a less-than-dominating comeback.
The race, it seems, has generated enough of its own momentum that it no longer needs to draft off Armstrong’s mainstream-media publicity.
Last year’s tightly contested race, the first time the tour was not won by an American, and the first time it was held in the more inviting weather of May rather than February, helped to increase the tour’s profile among both casual and hardcore cycling fans.
It was voted by readers of Cyclingnews the third best stage race in the world after only the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France, two of cycling’s three Grand Tours.
Australian Michael Rogers of powerhouse team HTC-Columbia won by nine seconds over American time-trial specialist David Zabriskie of Garmin-Transitions, with Levi Leipheimer of Team RadioShack, the three-time winner from Santa Rosa, in third place, just 25 seconds back.
More than two million people came out to watch the race in person.
“Unlike other sports, cycling lets fans get right into the action,” says Messick. “They are on the course, cheering the cyclists on, waiting to get autographs as the cyclists sign in at the beginning of each stage. It’s a great feeling to be able to give our fans the opportunity to see the same guys that compete in the Tour de France right here on U.S. soil.”
For elite cycling teams, the Amgen tour provides an appealing stateside tune-up for the Tour de France in July.
For recreational riders across the state, as well as many non-riders, the race captivates their attention with intriguing courses that vary from year to year, showcasing California’s diverse terrain and roping in fervent cycling communities. The course lottery creates a buzz that lingers and spreads with each year’s announcement.
This year the buzz is palpable in the Tahoe-Truckee region, where the first two stages go off, despite a staggering snow year that doesn’t look like it’ll leave much time for locals to transition from skiing to cycling.
Beyond the racing spectacle, the crowds and publicity promise to be a dream come true for Tahoe PR people and businesses during the typically slow spring shoulder season.
Stage 1: The amount of snow still blanketing the peaks in mid-May when the race circles the lake on the 118-mile first stage from South Lake Tahoe to Northstar should make for a stunning backdrop for spectators, not to mention TV and web-cast viewers around the world. There will be three King of the Mountain climbs during the stage; two at Emerald Bay and one at Spooner Summit.
Stage 2: Day two’s epic stage starts at Squaw Valley at 10:15 a.m., where it’s likely some folks might be watching the action in their ski boots. The juxtaposition of California’s winter and summer activities will only be further enforced as riders head for Truckee and up and over Donner Pass (a KOM climb) on Old Highway 40, where the snowbanks are likely to be well over rider’s heads, on down Highway 20 through Nevada City, finishing at the State Capitol 133 miles later.
By the way, for cyclists who know that Old Highway 40 ends at Cisco Grove, the TOC course will indeed merge on to Interstate 80 for several miles to link up with Highway 20. A few clueless truckers will no doubt fume at being inconvenienced for a short while for having to defer to lycra-clad men with shaved legs.
Following the first two stages, the race enters more familiar territory with some interesting twists.
Stage 3 backtracks a little from downtown Sacramento to Gold Country, starting in Auburn and running 122 mostly-flat miles to Modesto along the eastern edge of the Central Valley. From Auburn, racers will speed down Auburn-Folsom Road to Folsom, one of the most popular rides in the Sacramento area, and south through Ione and Oakdale, finishing with two circuit laps in downtown Modesto, a popular repeat host city of the tour.
Stage 4 brings the tour to the Bay Area, entering Silicon Valley through the backdoor with an 82-mile stage from Livermore to San Jose that goes out Mines Road and climbs up the backside of Mt. Hamilton to Lick Observatory (4,130 feet). Riders then speed down the front side to the valley only to turn back up Sierra Road for a 3.5-mile, 1700-foot climb with a 10 percent average grade. It’s advertised as the first mountain top finish in the tour’s history, though another bigger one awaits a few days later.
Stage 5 moves to the Monterey Peninsula, returning the tour after a two-year absence, and begins the transition from Nor Cal to So Cal with a 139-mile ride from Seaside to Paso Robles along Highway 1 and the dramatic Big Sur coast. Just south of Cambria, the ride turns inland up Santa Rosa Creek Road and rolls through the Central Coast wine region into downtown Paso Robles, the site of an exciting sprint finish in 2009.
Stage 6 will see riders tilting onto aero bars in Solvang’s Danish-styled village for a 15-mile time trial through the sunny fields of the Santa Ynez Valley (Solvang is Danish for “sunny fields,” don’t you know). Except for last year, Solvang has hosted the time trial in every Amgen Tour. Although mostly flat, there’s a short but steep climb up Ballard Canyon. Traditionally this stage helps separate the contenders from the chasers.
Stage 7 moves to the prime training ground of many local racers in greater Los Angeles, going up, down and back up the San Gabriel Mountains from the college town of Claremont, a.k.a. “the city of trees and PhDs,” to the Mt. Baldy ski area. The 76-mile stage will be the Alpe d’Huez of the Tour of California, finishing with a 2.5-mile climb featuring 10 switchbacks to the base of Mt. Baldy (6,500 feet).
Stage 8, 80 miles from Santa Clarita to Thousand Oaks, returns the tour to the home city of its title sponsor, Amgen, a global biotech firm headquartered in Thousand Oaks. The stage starts just east of Interstate 5 and heads west on Highway 126 into Ventura County. It then climbs up Balcolm Canyon, the final KOM climb of the tour. The race winds up with five flat and fast circuits through Thousand Oaks, where the winner will be crowned.
Nineteen international and professional cycling teams are due to compete in this year’s tour. Each team wiil have an eight-man roster, making for 152 riders in all.
Leipheimer told Cyclingnews that he is confident that he and Team RadioShack can win a fourth tour, after last year’s third place. The 37-year-old said he is particularly looking forward to the uphill finish at Mt. Baldy.
Other cyclists to keep an eye on include up-and-coming Americans like Peter Stetina of Team Garmin-Cervélo, Ben King of Team RadioShack and Tejay Van Garderen of HTC-Highroad.
“We feel a lot of responsibility with this race,” adds Messick. “We are not only promoting the great sport of cycling within the U.S., but we’re highlighting the beautiful state of California and helping to foster the talent of young American cyclists who will be the future of the sport.”
World’s Best Cyclists Tackle Brutal 750-mile Route
By Karen Kefauver • Photo by Doug Pensinger
With California’s grim budget projections, state residents need something to cheer about. Fortunately, fans of cycling as well as casual observers can rally around this winter’s 2009 Amgen Tour of California, the largest professional bike race in the United States, which runs February 14-22. The 750-mile-plus ride will attract some of the world’s best cyclists – including Lance Armstrong of Texas, the seven-time winner of the Tour de France, and two-time defending Tour of California (TOC) champion Levi Leipheimer, a Santa Rosa resident.
Competing in teams, 128 road racers will test their strength and endurance during the grueling, nine-day event, known as a “stage race” in cycling parlance. From the state capital in Sacramento to Escondido in San Diego County, the all-male peloton will cover almost the entire length of California — racing day after day at a pace most of us can only imagine. They will start and finish the consecutive races in 16 cities that have been selected by TOC presenter AEG Sports. Communities along the route will witness, firsthand, a lineup of some of the most elite, recognizable cycling teams and athletes in the world. (As of press time, the slate of 2009 teams had not been finalized, but many of the same riders will compete in the Tour de France in July). More than one million spectators came out to watch the tour last year, according to AEG.
Host cities for the prologue and eight stages include: Sacramento, Davis*, Santa Rosa (site of the Women’s Criterium), Sausalito, Santa Cruz*, San Jose, Modesto, Merced*, Clovis, Visalia*, Paso Robles*, Solvang, Santa Clarita, Pasadena, Rancho Bernardo*, and Escondido*. (*Cities participating for the first time in 2009).
Rain or shine, some of the most exciting action will unfold in the Northern California portion of the route, including Stage 2’s ride over the Golden Gate Bridge, followed by demanding climbs on Tunitas Creek Road and Bonny Doon Road. Fast descents will follow.
Pro riders Ben Jacques-Maynes and Taylor Tolleson, both Santa Cruz County residents, said they were happy to know what was in store for them on these tough climbs.
“It will be an advantage that I ride Bonny Doon Road regularly on my training rides,” said Jacques-Maynes, who has competed in the three previous TOCs.
The 2009 Tour of California is presented by title sponsor Amgen and organized by AEG, a sports and entertainment company. Amgen launched an initiative in 2005, Breakaway from Cancer, which helps raise funds and awareness for cancer support programs.
An avid mountain biker and road cyclist, Karen Kefauver is a freelance writer based in Santa Cruz. She specializes in writing stories about adventure travel and endurance sports. For more of her cycling stories, visit karenkefauver.com.