The Amgen Tour of California has released details of its 2013 course, and for the first time in its eight year history the race will follow a south-to-north route through the state. Not only will the direction be different than in years past, but every stage is also brand new.
"Taking the Amgen Tour of California (ATOC) from south to north is something we always knew we wanted to do, and we are thrilled with the way things have come together for 2013," said Kristin Bachochin, executive director of the race. "We think this will bring a whole new element to the competition, not to mention helping us achieve our goal of creating a challenging route year after year while showcasing the very best this state has to offer."
The eight-day event will begin on May 12 just north of San Diego, with a circuit race that begins and ends in Escondido. Other highlights include Stage 3 from Palmdale to Santa Clarita, with the route likely to mount the high-altitude Angeles Crest Highway. San Jose, the only city to have featured in every ATOC to date, will host a time trial on Stage 6. The following day's queen stage, which starts in Livermore and ends with the 10.8-mile ascent to the top of 3,848-foot Mt. Diablo, will likely decide the winner. The race concludes on Stage 8 with a jaunt from San Francisco to Santa Rosa.The full route is as follows:
Stage 1: Sunday, May 12: Escondido
Stage 2: Monday, May 13: Murrieta to Greater Palm Springs
Stage 3: Tuesday, May 14: Palmdale to Santa Clarita
Stage 4: Wednesday, May 15: Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara
Stage 5: Thursday, May 16: Santa Barbara to Avila Beach
Stage 6: Friday, May 17: San Jose (Individual Time Trial)
Stage 7: Saturday, May 18: Livermore to Mt. Diablo
Stage 8: Sunday, May 19: San Francisco to Santa Rosa
Initial feedback on the new route was positive. "I'm very excited to hear about the new South-North route," said Chris Horner, 2011 Amgen Tour of California champion. "After growing up in San Diego, I love seeing the race back on the roads I've ridden for the past 25 years."
Tejay Van Garderen, who placed fourth overall at the 2012 ATOC and is expected to vie for the overall again this year, felt similarly about the finish in Santa Rosa, which is the hometown of his BMC Racing Team. "Santa Rosa had big crowds and a huge reception last year for the start, so it should be a fun town to finish in as well," he said. "As an American cyclist, this event is always a priority for me and our team."
Apart from the route, the competition could also be turned slightly on its head. Three-time ATOC winner Levi Leipheimer, who has won more titles than any other racer but didn't factor in last year's event because of a broken leg, is in doubt again for 2013. Earlier this fall, Leiphimer was dropped by his team, Omega Pharma-Lotto, after he admitted to doping earlier in his career, and though he would like to take the start, the Santa Rosa, California, native has yet to find a new team for the upcoming season.