Peter Sagan (Liquigas - Cannondale) got a stuffed Grizzly for his stage 1 victory at the Amgen Tour of California
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Vacansoleil and Champion System debut
The organisers of the Amgen Tour of California have announced the final 16-team roster for the 2013 edition of the race, a list that includes eight WorldTour, three Pro Continental and five domestic Continental squads.
Not joining the race this year is the Blanco team of defending champion Robert Gesink. However, world champion Philippe Gilbert's BMC team will be headlining the event, which concludes in the team's domestic base of Santa Rosa. Gilbert is expected to take part in the race alongside perennial overall contender and teammate Tejay van Garderen.
Peter Sagan's Cannondale team is returning again, giving the Slovakian a chance to add to his record tally of eight stage victories.
Also returning for a fifth participation is Tom Boonen, who, with his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team, is slated to once again use the race to build competitive form after his post-Classics break.
RadioShack Leopard, Garmin-Sharp, Orica-GreenEdge, and Saxo-Tinkoff will all be returning, while Vacansoleil-DCM will compete in California for the first time.
They are joined by returning team UnitedHealthcare and newcomers Champion System and NetApp-Endura from the Pro Continental ranks, and 5-Hour Energy/Kenda, Bissell, Bontrager, Optum/Kelly Benefit Strategies and Jamis-Hagens Berman from the Continental division.
"The Amgen Tour of California consistently attracts the world’s elite teams and riders, and has become one of the most important races on the international calendar," said Kristin Bachochin, executive director of the race and senior vice president of AEG Sports. "With our eighth edition this year, we are honored to again host one of the top fields ever assembled in a spectacular showcase for cycling fans in California and around the world."
The eighth edition of the Tour of California will commence on May 12 from Escondido, making its first trip from Southern California to the north. It will include a time trial in San Jose, a mountain top finish on Mt. Diablo in the East Bay, and an iconic final stage from San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge, past the towering Sequoias of the coast and concluding in Santa Rosa.
The race will be a prime goal for van Garderen, whose team makes its US base in the race's overall finishing town.
"The Amgen Tour of California is a big objective of mine because it's not very often that we get to race in front of a home crowd. So I'm really going to relish that," said van Garderen. "If we can go into the hometown of the BMC Racing Team (Santa Rosa) on the last day in the leader’s jersey, that would be a special feeling. I'd love to be able to do that and to pay back the team for the support it's given to me. To get the reception of the crowd in a situation like that would definitely be a career highlight."