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BOULDER, Colorado (VN) — There are changes in store for this year’s Amgen Tour of California, among them a south-to-north route, the ascent of Mt. Diablo, and the likely absence of one of the race’s champions. Organizers hope the route changes make it the most competitive Amgen Tour on record.
On Tuesday organizers announced the details of the eighth edition of the Amgen Tour. A mountaintop finish on Mt. Diablo and a Golden Gate Bridge crossing highlight the eight-day, 750-mile race, which starts in Escondido and finishes in Santa Rosa.
Jim Birrell, race director, and Kristin Bachochin, executive director of the race and senior vice president of AEG Sports, said the new route would lead to tighter racing and showcase the state’s economic centers.
“The overall composition changes every single day. It’s definitely the most competitive route in the Amgen Tour of California,” Bachochin said. “The great thing about the state of California? There are so many different areas to choose from. What is challenging for us sometimes is that we only have eight days to work with.”
The race starts in Escondido, an area that in 2009 saw the largest crowds in race history.
“First of all, we’re extremely excited about starting in the south and heading up north. I think the design has increased the chances of seeing the lead change multiple times through those eight days,” Birrell said.
The overall will be contested to the north, and established in a time trial with a 3.5-mile climb to the finish.
“These riders will have a moment of truth,” Birrell said.
The queen stage comes on stage 7, from Livermore to Mt. Diablo, and finishes a day later with the run from San Francisco to Santa Rosa.
The event may be missing one of its champions and ambassadors when it rolls out of Southern California this year. Levi Leipheimer, who lives in Santa Rosa, was caught up in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation of Lance Armstrong and admitted doping during his career. His team, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, sacked him shortly thereafter, and the three-time Amgen Tour champ (2007-09) presently finds himself without a team.
“Levi, yeah, has been a participant in our race every singe year, and who knows what’s going to happen?” Bachochin said. Should he find a team, she said, Leipheimer would be welcomed.
Organizers plan to announce participating teams in two weeks’ time. Road world champion Philippe Gilbert will be there with his BMC Racing squad, though it’s not yet clear who will fight for the general classification.
In years past, more than 2 million people have watched the race along the California roads.
2013 Amgen Tour of California
Stage 1, Sunday, May 12: Escondido (104.3 miles)
Stage 2, Monday, May 13: Murrieta-Greater Palm Springs (126.1 miles)
Stage 3, Tuesday, May 14: Palmdale-Santa Clarita (111.8 miles)
Stage 4, Wednesday, May 15: Santa Clarita-Santa Barbara (84.7 miles)
Stage 5, Thursday, May 16: Santa Barbara-Avila Beach (116.4 miles)
Stage 6, Friday, May 17: San Jose (individual time trial) (19.6 miles)
Stage 7, Saturday, May 18: Livermore-Mount Diablo (93 miles)
Stage 8, Sunday, May 19: San Francisco-Santa Rosa (86.2 miles)