After reviewing more than 100 submissions from cities throughout California hoping to be named official start or finish locations, AEG, presenter of the Amgen Tour of California, has announced the 13 official Host Cities for the 2012 race. Considered Americas largest and most prestigious professional road cycling stage race, the seventh consecutive edition of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California will travel more than 750 miles from May 13 20, 2012.
Our goal for the Amgen Tour of California has always been to create a route that not only provides a challenging race for the worlds top cyclists, but one that highlights the beauty and diverse terrain that make up the great state of California as well, said Kristin Bachochin, executive director of the Amgen Tour of California. Every year we challenge ourselves to raise the bar once again and create a route more challenging than the last, but thats the great thing about planning a race in California, there is so much from which we can choose. From epic climbs to fast and flat stages to rolling hills and thrilling finishes by the sea, California has it all.
As announced earlier this year, Stage 1 of the race will start in Santa Rosa, hometown of three-time Amgen Tour of California Champion Levi Leipheimer. The race will then take the riders from San Francisco to Santa Cruz County for Stage 2, starting with the Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop and once again bringing the route back along the picturesque coast of the Pacific Ocean. Heading inland, Stage 3 of the race will begin in San Jose (the only city to be a Host City each of the previous six years of the event) and end in Livermore, traversing an entirely new part of the State not showcased in previous editions of the race. A new city for 2012, Stage 4 will start in Sonora and wind its way south, featuring several new climbs, before whats sure to be a dramatic sprint finish in Clovis.
Im so proud to have the Amgen Tour of California coming back to Santa Rosa and Sonoma County in 2012, said Levi Leipheimer, three-time race winner (2007, 2008, 2009) and Santa Rosa resident. As host of the overall start on May 13, well have a chance to show off our home town to the world, both on race day and in the days leading up to it as the teams and media gather here before the start. Im looking forward to introducing some of the best cyclists in the world to some of the best cycling in the world right here in my back yard. The 2012 Amgen Tour of California will be a hard fought battle as we march away from Santa Rosa towards the mighty Mt Baldy.
The much-anticipated Individual Time Trial, Stage 5, will be held in Bakersfield, a city that has hosted the Amgen Tour of California before (although not the Time Trial specifically), likely proving to favor those who have more than just speed as part of their repertoire.
Stage 6 will start in Palmdale and head to Big Bear Lake, which was the site of a thrilling stage finish in 2010 when Michael Rogers (AUS) of HTC-Columbia secured his place as the race leader. For 2012, new challenges arise as a new climb is thrown into the mix.
Stage 7 of the race will start in Ontario, another new city for 2012, and once again include a grueling route to the top of Mt. Baldy. During the 2011 race, Mt. Baldy was the scene of an electric stage finish when American cyclists and RadioShack teammates Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer crossed the finish line first and second respectively. Tacking on an additional 10 miles to the route with the start in Ontario, Stage 7 will likely prove to be the penultimate stage once again.
The final stage of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California, Stage 8 will take place in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, sending riders in and around L.A. LIVE, the sports and entertainment district which includes STAPLES Center and Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE within its footprint, for an epic overall finish to a thrilling race.
This race is special because it takes place in one of the most beautiful places in the world California, said Chris Horner, 2011 Amgen Tour of California champion. The Host Cities are always so welcoming and the crowds are always great, not to mention, they provide some of the toughest racing terrain around! Im looking forward to racing in California again and defending my title in 2012.
For 2012, Amgen will return as the title sponsor for the seventh consecutive year, continuing to leverage the race to raise awareness of the important resources available to people affected by cancer through its Breakaway from Cancer® initiative. A leading global biotechnology company with headquarters in California, Amgen’s invaluable support has helped to ensure the continued success of the race and impact beyond the sporting arena.
Amgen stands ready to collaborate with this years Host City communities to spread awareness about our company, our mission to serve patients, and the incredible support services that are available at no cost to people affected by cancer through Amgens nonprofit Breakaway from Cancer partner organizations, said Stuart Arbuckle, vice president and general manager, Amgen Oncology.
The Amgen Tour of California is listed on the international professional cycling calendar (2. HC, meaning beyond category), awarding important, world-ranking points to the top finishers. The Amgen Tour of California looks continues to draw global attention as one of the most anticipated cycling events of the year one that attracts Olympic medalists, World Champions and the top Tour de France competitors.
Everyone always looks forward to the Amgen Tour of California because it has it all a challenging route, fierce competition, incredible fans and a beautiful setting, said Christian Vande Velde, who placed fourth overall in the 2011 Amgen Tour of California. I feel proud to be an American cyclist right now, when events like this race not only showcase the great racing that takes place here, but the amazing talent as well.
The 13 Host Cities for the 2012 Amgen Tour of California include:
Stage 1: Sunday, May 13 Santa Rosa
Stage 2: Monday, May 14 San Francisco to Santa Cruz County
Stage 3: Tuesday, May 15 San Jose to Livermore
Stage 4: Wednesday, May 16 Sonora (new for 2012) to Clovis
Stage 5: Thursday, May 17 Bakersfield (Individual Time Trial)
Stage 6: Friday, May 18 Palmdale to Big Bear Lake
Stage 7: Saturday, May 19 Ontario (new for 2012) to Mt. Baldy
Stage 8: Sunday, May 20 Los Angeles/L.A. LIVE