For the first time in race history, the Amgen Tour of California will work its way from south to north and top out on Mount Diablo, a legendary California climb, in 2013.
The eighth version of the race will cover 750 miles from May 12-19. The tour departs Escondido, just north of San Diego, with the stage 1 start and finish in the San Diego County city, which hosted the overall finish in 2009. The race will also travel from Murrieta to Palm Springs for stage 2, Palmdale to Santa Clarita on stage 3, Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara, and Santa Barbara to Avila Beach before the stage 6 individual time trial in San Jose. The penultimate stage will see the peloton ride from Livermore to Mount Diablo before the finale from San Francisco to Santa Rosa.
Without more specific route details, it’s hard to say where race-breaking moments could occur outside of the individual time trial and Mount Diablo. At 11.2 miles and 3,200 feet of ascension, it’s nearly certain the race will be won or lost on Diablo’s slopes.
American Tejay van Garderen will be an early favorite to win the overall, as the BMC Racing man finished fifth overall in the Tour de France last summer and took second place in the Colorado USA Pro Challenge. He finished fourth overall in California last year after suffering on the Mount Baldy stage.
In 2012, Rabobank’s Robert Gesink won the overall after he cracked Garmin-Sharp’s Tom Danielson and Dave Zabriskie, and van Garderen on the Baldy climb.
“As an American cyclist, the Amgen Tour of California is always a priority for me and our team, and I am looking forward to racing in California again in 2013,” van Garderen said. “Santa Rosa had big crowds and a huge reception last year for the start, so it will be exciting to go back to the hometown of the BMC Racing Team. I also spent a little time last winter in Santa Barbara, so that should be a fun town to finish in as well.”
Absent this year are the Big Bear and Baldy stages that were present in 2011 and 2012. Big Bear wasn’t steep enough to shape the race, but Baldy had garnered a reputation as the hardest day of the Amgen Tour.
Another danger man has to be Chris Horner, who won the race in 2011 but was unable to defend last year after a dismal time trial in the Bakersfield heat. The RadioShack-Nissan rider is one of the best climbers in the field, and a stage like Diablo certainly suits the American.
“I’m very excited to hear about the new south-north route for the 2013 Amgen Tour of California,” 2011 winner Chris Horner said. “After growing up in San Diego, I love seeing the race back on the roads I’ve ridden for the past 25 years. Being welcomed by thousands of fans in Escondido in 2009 was a highlight of my career, and I’m sure the crowds will be even more amazing for the 2013 edition.”
The Amgen Tour is listed as 2.HC race on the international road calendar, giving it the top status for stage races outside the WorldTour.
“Taking the Amgen Tour of California 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 Amgen Tour of California and senior vice president of AEG Sports. “We think this will bring a whole new element to the competition for the elite cyclists who participate, not to mention some striking California scenery for our worldwide audience. California provides a variety of beautiful yet challenging terrain, helping us achieve our goal of creating a challenging route year after year while showcasing the very best this state has to offer.”
Amgen returns as the race title sponsor for the eighth consecutive year, continuing to leverage the event to raise awareness of the resources available to people affected by cancer through its Breakaway from Cancer initiative.