LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CA - MAY 21: (L-R) Rob Britton of Canada riding for Bissell Cycling, Grischa Niermann of Germany riding for Rabobank and George Hincapie of the BMC Racing Team work in the breakaway as they pass through the Angeles National Forest during stage seven of the 2011 AMGEN Tour of California from Claremont to Mt. Baldy on May 21, 2011 in Los Angeles County, California. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
The 2012 Amgen Tour of California begins on Sunday, with Minnesota represented by the Minneapolis based Optum Pro Cycling team.
The 2012 Amgen Tour of California kicks off Sunday in Santa Rosa, CA and Minneapolis-based team Optum Pro Cycling is among the teams riding the race. The eight stage race lasts from May 13 to May 20 and covers over 700 miles across California. The 2012 edition of the race is notable in that unlike previous years, the race opens with no clear favorite. Three time race winner Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) will be in the race, but only months after being hit by a car while training, he has stressed that he is not expecting to ride his best race.
The Race Course:
Stage 1: Santa Rosa to Santa Rosa - 10:50am Sunday May 13
The race will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network, who will also be streaming the race online (though not for free.)
Things look sunny and warm for the most part, a fact sure to please race organizers. Previous Tours were held much earlier in the year, but frustration with cold, wet stages led to a change in scheduling.
Riders to Watch:
Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), and Tom Danielson & Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Barracuda.)
SB Nation will have updates throughout the 2012 Tour of Calfornia, and as always the excellent cycling blog Podium Cafe has all the info and analysis you need.