Megan Guarnier, defending Amgen Women's Race champion and winner of the inaugural Women's WorldTour last year, will headline the 2017 start list when this year's four-day race takes off from South Lake Tahoe on May 11 and concludes in Sacramento on May 14.
Guarnier and her Boels Dolmans team, which won the Women's WorldTour team competition last year, were part of a 16-team start list that race owners AEG unveiled Thursday morning along with the list of teams selected for the Tour of California men's race.
"I was so proud to win last year's Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women's Race empowered with SRAM, the most prestigious race in my home country," said Guarnier, who lives in San Mateo, California. "It was one of the highlights of my season, and I can't wait to see what's ahead for me and my team in California this May."
Guarnier took the lead in last year's race on the opening day in South Tahoe, then held off challenges from Kristin Armstrong and Marianne Vos to take the overall win in Sacramento. She eventually finished 17 seconds ahead of Armstrong – who went on to win Gold at the Olympic time trial in Rio – 28 seconds ahead of teammate Evelyn Stevens and 42 seconds ahead of Vos.
This year's route once again starts in South Lake Tahoe and finishes in Sacramento, but Guarnier will face a whole new host of challengers after Armstrong and Stevens retired and Vos' new WM3 team won't be at the race.
Canyon/SRAM's Trixi Worrack, who missed the race last year while she was recovering from injury, will lead the charge to unseat Guarnier, while up-and-coming road pro and Olympic silver medalist Chloe Dygert will pick up the Sho-Air Twenty20 baton from Armstrong.
"Last year's competition was the first UCI Women's WorldTour race I competed in," said Dygert, who was the junior time trial and road race world champion. "To race alongside my coach and mentor Kristin Armstrong [a race ambassador for 2017 - ed.] and finish the week wearing the Best Young Rider's jersey was an amazing experience. I can't wait to race the truly beautiful roads of California against a world-class field. This year's race is going to be awesome."
Cylance Pro Cycling, which has scored three wins this year via Kirsten Wild and Sheyla Gutiérrez, will also stand in Guarnier's path. Wild, a talented Dutch sprinter, won the final stage last year. Other top international teams include Drops, Wiggle-High5, Sunweb, Lares-Waowdeals, BePink Cogeas and Astana. US teams on the start list are Hagens Berman-Supermint, Rally Cycling, Colavita-Bianchi, TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank, UnitedHealthcare and Visit Dallas DNA.
The 2017 race features two stages in Tahoe before a transition stage from Elk Grove to Sacramento. The final stage will take place on a short urban circuit around the state capitol in Sacramento before the men's opening stage finishes on the same roads.
2017 Amgen Women's Race Teams:
Astana Women's Team
Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team
Cylance Pro Cycling
Lares-Waowdeals Women Cycling Team
Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Visit Dallas DNA Pro Cycling
Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling