After intense planning and careful consideration, details for the 2012 Amgen Tour of California professional road cycling race have been announced. The 2012 edition of America’s premier cycling race will feature new cities, new challenges for the world-class group of teams and riders, and breathtaking California scenery while returning to some of the fans’ and riders’ favorite California landmarks, including Big Bear Lake and Mt. Baldy. The seventh-annual event will travel more than 750 miles over eight days from May 13 – 20, 2012.
Beginning in three-time race champion Levi Leipheimer’s hometown of Santa Rosa, the 2012 race will wind its way south through redwood-lined country roads and spectacular coastline drives before ending in the City of Angels, Los Angeles. Also, for the first time in race history, Stage 8, the final stage of the race, will begin on one of the most famous streets in one of the most recognized cities in the world, Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills.
In celebration of the route announcement, each of the 14 Host Cities produced videos highlighting their respective stages which are now posted on the official race website at www.AmgenTourofCalifornia.com. Each video includes specific route details, as well as individual city highlights, all of which combine to create an exciting first-hand look at what is sure to be a thrilling race.
“We take great pride in developing the route for the Amgen Tour of California, not only because it attracts the world’s elite cyclists, but because it puts an international spotlight on California for eight days,” said Kristin Bachochin, executive director of the race and senior vice president of AEG Sports. “We spend countless hours poring over possible route scenarios and taking into account fan and rider suggestions before determining the final course; it is a true labor of love. We want to thank our Host Cities for creating the videos that highlight their stage route details and show what an amazing race this will be.”
Drawing the world’s top cyclists, including Tour de France competitors, Olympic medalists and world champions, the Amgen Tour of California is one of most anticipated professional cycling races on the international calendar. Highlights of the 2012 route include:
Stage 1, Presented by Rabobank: Santa Rosa to Santa Rosa (Sunday, May 13)
Start/Finish Location: 3rd St. and Santa Rosa Ave.
The first day of racing of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California will start and finish in Santa Rosa, California, the city that helped establish the race as the premier professional cycling event in the U.S. and home to three-time race champion Levi Leipheimer. Expect to see spectators perched in the trees, rooftops and in windows near the finish line as they vie for the very best view of the final sprint.
The stage will start with two neutral laps around the city before heading out to the open roads of beautiful Sonoma County. Within 30 minutes, the race will reach the Town of Windsor and the first of several of the stage’s featured Sprints. The peloton will then head south, passing by several of Sonoma County’s world-famous vineyards. In Graton, the racers will turn east and head back into Santa Rosa for another Sprint, followed by a straight shot towards the coast and into the quaint town of Occidental. From here, the stage heads north on Bohemian Highway and follow a portion of Levi Leipheimer’s “King Ridge GranFondo” route.
In Cazadero, the racers will start to feel the cool Pacific Ocean breezes as they begin a climb up to the top of Fort Ross Road. They say “what goes up must come down” – and in this case, Meyers Grade Road presents amazing views of a spectacular coast line, but it’s the white-knuckle descent down to Highway 1 that will quickly grab the rider’s attention. A left onto Highway 1 will take the racers south 12 miles to the quintessential northern California climb of Coleman Valley Road, which is long, twisty and steep. The technical descent back into Occidental will test the skills of every member of the peloton as they compete over the last 16 miles on redwood lined country roads to the finish in Santa Rosa. For the first time, the riders will race right to the finish line in Santa Rosa without any finishing circuits, ensuring a climactic, crowd-pleasing end to Stage 1 of the 2012 race.
Stage 2, Presented by Visit California: San Francisco to Aptos in Santa Cruz County (Monday, May 14)
Start Location: Marina Green at Marina Boulevard in San Francisco
Finish Location: Cabrillo College on Cabrillo College Drive in Aptos
Cycling fans who love the electric feel of race starts will be hard-pressed to find anything better than the Stage 2 start of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California in San Francisco. Beginning at Marina Green in San Francisco’s Marina District, the start line will run right to the break wall of San Francisco Bay. The backdrop? Breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island and the Marin Headlands. However, the riders’ stay in the great city of San Francisco will be short-lived because within a few minutes, the race will have passed through the Presidio with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. From here, Stage 2 will continue south on Highway 1 through the San Francisco suburbs of Pacifica and Daly City. Making its way down the Devil’s Slide, north of Half Moon Bay, the peloton will enjoy the most spectacular coastline in the world. The stage will then turn inward and start the assault up Bonny Doon, which, in previous editions of the race, has determined the winner of the stage.
With the stage finish moving to Aptos this year, the riders will face another 42 miles of racing and another KOM. The last several miles of the stage are downhill, followed by a short run down Soquel Avenue to the finish. Stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California will certainly be a long and difficult stage, but it won’t be a surprise to see a large pack of riders contest the finish in an exciting Sprint.
Stage 3: San Jose to Livermore (Tuesday, May 15)
Start Location: Berryessa Community Center on Berryessa Road in San Jose
Finish Location: Livermore (M Street and 1st Street)
Stage 3 will begin in San Jose, the only city to have played host to the Amgen Tour of California all seven years of the race. This year, the typical downtown start has been moved to north San Jose, just a few miles from the infamous Sierra Road climb. While the riders won’t be expected to tackle a Category 1 climb just two miles from the start as they have been in the past, the route into Livermore is one that the race has taken before: Calaveras Road and Highway 84.
While Livermore will be hosting their first stage finish in 2012, riders have raced through the town during previous editions including the Stage 4 start in 2011. Home of the renowned Lawrence Livermore Labs, the City of Livermore (established in 1869) played a prominent role in California’s Gold Rush history and is home today to a thriving wine industry.
Just 28 miles into the race, the riders will contest a challenging Sprint to the finish but the race will just be getting started. Heading out north on Livermore Avenue, the riders will likely face a stiff headwind coming down the valley. After passing through the town of Danville, the Amgen Tour of California will grant a wish that has been made for the past six years by riders and fans, “Please climb Mt. Diablo.” For the first time in the history of the race, the riders will climb Mt. Diablo. One of the most revered climbs in California, race organizers, cyclists and fans alike are excited to have this climb as part of Stage 3 of the 2012 race.
After a fast and technical descent into Walnut Creek, the race will then head east into the Town of Clayton where the second Sprint of the stage will take place. From Clayton, the race will connect back to a familiar route into Livermore. Just nine miles from the finish, the riders will likely tackle blustery winds as they battle the final KOM of the stage up Patterson Pass Road followed by a quick descent that will take the race onto Cross and Tesla roads. On Livermore Avenue once again, it will be just a few miles to what is sure to be a sprint finish in historic downtown Livermore.
Stage 4: Sonora to Clovis (Wednesday, May 16)
Start Location: Sonora (Yaney and Washington)
Finish Location: Clovis (Bullard and Pollasky Aves.)
At 130 miles, Stage 4 is the longest stage of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California, and possibly the most difficult. This will be the race’s first visit to Sonora, a town that many consider to be the most preserved Gold Rush town in California. There is no question about the important role that Sonora played in the Gold Rush, and today it serves as both the gateway to Yosemite National Park (just 30 miles away) and the seat of Tuolumne County. Sonora has California history written all over it, and you need to look no further than the location of the Stage 4 race start. As the riders roll south from the start, it will be easy to imagine what it was like more than 250 years ago as wagons rolled down the same roads.
As the riders head south towards Mariposa and Oakhurst (both Sprint cities), they will enjoy the incredible beauty and challenge of historic Highway 49. As they skirt Yosemite, they will encounter everything from numerous KOMs, twisty and technical descents, and raging rivers, but very few sections of flat roadway. Once through Mariposa, Highway 49 widens a bit, but two more KOMs will await the cyclists as they head to the final Sprint in Oakhurst. The riders will no doubt be fearless as they attack the final 40 miles into the return to Clovis, perhaps recalling the snow and ice along this same route in 2009.
What better way to help celebrate Clovis’ 100th anniversary than to watch a thundering peloton sprint to the same finish won by Mark Cavendish in 2009. Clovis is another city belonging to California’s Gateway to Yosemite and is home to the world-famous Clovis Rodeo.
Stage 5, Presented by Rabobank: Individual Time Trial (Thursday, May 17)
Start/Finish Location: Bakersfield (Bakersfield College – Panorama Drive)
The finishing circuit at the end of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California’s Stage 5 in Bakersfield was a gut-wrenching fan favorite, so it was only natural to return to the scene and turn that circuit into an 18.4 mile Individual Time Trial course.
Right from the start, the riders will go from zero to nearly 60 mph in a matter of seconds. The start ramp will launch them onto an immediate descent to Alfred Harrel Highway. From there, it will be a straight – but not exactly flat – route to the turnaround point at Lake Ming.
In May, it’s likely going to be hot and windy, and there will not be much in the way of flat roadway to catch your breath. The route is full of 100-foot rollers, and as the riders approach the finish, they’ll be able to see it… up on a 300-foot bluff.
The prepared rider will have saved a little for the China Grade, which presents an eight percent climb to the top and then a hard left, and it won’t be over there. The riders will still face a slightly uphill, .44-mile run to the finish.
For those who think Stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California sounds like a fun 40 minutes on the bike, come out and be part of a select group of amateurs that will get to race the course just before the pros start.
Stage 6, Presented by Visit California: Palmdale to Big Bear Lake (Friday, May 18)
Start Location: Marie Kerr Park, 2723 Rancho Vista Boulevard, Palmdale.
Finish Location: Snow Summit Ski Area on Summit Boulevard in Big Bear Lake
After a hiatus during the 2011 Amgen Tour of California, Big Bear Lake is back on the race map, challenging riders to face a daunting Stage 6, which will feature the first of the race’s “Daily Double”: Big Bear Climb and Mt. Baldy. If the 2010 route was a killer, this slightly toned down route will be a crusher. Stage 6 will be all about strategy as the riders will still be feeling the sting of the Bakersfield Time Trial from the day before. Will riders leave it all on the mountain climbs on Friday in hopes they can survive the brutal ascent to Mt. Baldy on Saturday? Or will they match the move of their nearest rivals and let Mt. Baldy decide the ultimate winner of the Amgen Leader Jersey? Or will there be a standout star that is capable of attacking both the Big Bear Climb and Mt. Baldy?
After a cruise down historic Sierra Highway, the racers will head into the Angeles National Forest. After a short stretch on Angeles Forest Highway, the route will turn onto Mt. Emma Road. Following the first climb of the day and then a descent to Fort Tejon Road, the first KOM at Mountain High ski area will be reached via a 12-mile climb to a 7,000-foot summit at Angeles Crest Highway. There will be a brief respite as the riders descend into Wrightwood and then over to Highway 138. The route will once again go vertical as it passes through Crestline and Lake Arrowhead, and then onto the Rim of the World Highway. Entering the Big Bear area, the riders will take the northern route around Big Bear Lake and then tackle the last ascent to the finish at a more than 7,000-foot elevation at the Snow Summit ski area.
Stage 7: Ontario to Mt. Baldy (Saturday, May 19)
Start Location: Ontario Convention Center
Finish Location: Mt. Baldy Ski Resort
If the Stage 6 climb to Big Bear Lake created some separation between the contenders and the chasers, Stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California will be the ultimate test of the rider’s resolve to capture the Amgen Leader Jersey. Did they leave it all on the roads to the Big Bear Climb, or did they hold back enough to survive one of the most difficult stages in the history of bicycle racing in the United States?
It’s been called the “Queen’s Stage” and compared to the epic stages of the European Grand Tours – a return to the mountain top finish that thrilled so many during Stage 7 of the 2011 race. This is the training ground for many of the local racers in southern California, but only a handful have done the entire route, and none have done it after six days of racing more than 750 miles. It is very possible that the winner of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California will be decided on the final 15 switchbacks to the finish on Mt. Baldy.
The race will begin in the thriving city of Ontario. Situated just 35 miles east of Los Angeles, Ontario is the center of commerce in southern California. Just a few miles from the start, the riders will start a 13-mile climb to the Village of Baldy. After an acute left, the racers will face another mile of climbing up Glendora Ridge Road to their first of three monster KOMs. From there, they will have 12 miles of narrow and twisting roads that gradually descend to a fast and technical descent down the backside of Glendora Mountain Road. Riders and fans alike can expect spectacular vistas throughout the Angeles National Forest.
Another descent down East Fork will take the riders to Highway 39 and the town of Azusa. Heading east, they’ll race through the City of Glendora for the only Sprint of the day. At this point, the remaining number of flat miles for Stage 7 will have dwindled to less than two, and there are still nearly 30 miles to the finish.
A left turn onto Glendora Mountain Road and it will be game on. The next KOM will be a nine-mile climb, followed by 12 miles of a slight climb back to Baldy Village. A left turn back onto Baldy Road will see the race gain 1,000 feet in just three miles…and the real climbing has not even started! At Ice House Canyon, the route will make a hard left turn where the sign to the ski area points towards the sky. Over the next 2.5 miles, the riders will face 10 switchbacks on a road that is so steep that many of the race vehicles cannot make it to the top. With 1.2 miles to go, the road will straighten out and the finish will be seen ahead. At .25 miles to go, the route will make a hard left and the racers will face the final five switchbacks to the finish line. This will be the stage where legends are made and winners are decided.
Stage 8, Presented by Amgen: Beverly Hills to L.A. LIVE – Los Angeles (Sunday, May 20)
Start Location: Beverly Hills – (Rodeo Drive and Brighton Way)
Finish Location: Los Angeles – L.A. LIVE (Figueroa Street and Chick Hearn Court)
Stage 8 of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California will start in what is quite possibly the most quintessential L.A. city – Beverly Hills. A first in the history of the race, the start line will be just across Rodeo Drive, where the Ferraris, Lamborghinis and the occasional Bugatti Veyron will be replaced with Giants, Treks, BMCs, and Specialized bikes. Designer dresses will give way to high-tech lycra. What better way to start the final day of America’s premier cycling race!
A quick turn after the start will take the riders onto Santa Monica Boulevard and then north on Doheny Drive into the city of West Hollywood. Following the route of the famous LA Marathon, the race will reach Sunset Boulevard and then make a right turn, heading towards
Hollywood. Heads in the peloton are sure to turn as the riders pass the likes of Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Kodak Theater, Mann’s Chinese Theater, the intersection of Hollywood and Vine, and the Pantages Theater. The route will then turn southeast and travel past Dodger Stadium.
At Grand and Caesar Chavez avenues, the riders will enter the five-mile long circuit that will take riders through Chinatown, past Los Angeles City Hall, the historic Biltmore Hotel, Disney Hall and the LA Music Center as they race past STAPLES Center and L.A. LIVE to the finish line.
The winner of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California will be crowned on a special awards stage in Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE, a suiting location given the countless number of winners who have also tasted victory here, including GRAMMY, American Music Award, Emmy, ESPY, MTV and American Idol winners. At the end of the race, the winner, along with the team who supported him, will take top honors for having survived the longest and most difficult stage race ever contested in the America. This May 13 – 20, a whole new season of racing in America will begin with the prestigious and world-renowned Amgen Tour of California.
“It is a pleasure to continue to work with Amgen as the title sponsor of this race since its inception in 2006,” Bachochin said. “AEG is appreciative of our ongoing partnership with Amgen and we are proud to join them in bringing the company’s Breakaway from Cancer® initiative to life throughout the state of California during the race and to help educate people about the resources available to those impacted by cancer.”
Breakaway from Cancer represents a partnership between Amgen and four nonprofit organizations to raise awareness of the broad range of support services available to patients and caregivers – from prevention through survivorship. During the 2012 Amgen Tour of California, Amgen will honor and celebrate cancer survivors through a variety of events including Breakaway Miles, a special one-mile walk that crosses the finish line to honor cancer survivors. The Breakaway Mile will take place on race day in Santa Rosa, Livermore, Clovis, and Los Angeles. A special call for nominees in the search for a local Breakaway from Cancer Champion in each of these four communities will be issued in early March.
Additionally, volunteer registration for the race is now available online. Race organizers are looking to fill nearly 5,000 volunteer positions for the seventh-annual race, a majority of which are for the Course Marshal position, one of the more critical responsibilities during the race. Course Marshals provide support for the 75 professional Course Marshals that travel with the tour and support the local law enforcement authorities in each city. Course Marshals will be assigned a designated area along the race course to assist with the coordination and safety of the field of play for all race venues. They have an opportunity to be on the race route and close to the cyclists, with responsibilities for monitoring pedestrian traffic, barricades and road closures, as well as keeping spectators informed as the race is in progress. Course Marshal positions are for local stages only, not the entirety of the race.
Additional volunteer opportunities, such as media, security and volunteer check-in, are being recruited by the 14 individual Host Cities on an as-needed basis.
People looking to volunteer for the race can apply on the official race website, www.AmgenTourofCalifornia.com. Volunteers must be over the age of 18 or accompanied by an adult. Shortly after filling out the online form, volunteers will be contacted by the local organizing committee and receive further information.