AEG Sports, organisers of the Tour of California, has announced details of the 2013 route which for the first time will head from Southern California to the north. Escondido will host the start, and before the grand finale in Santa Rosa, the riders will face all new stages, a time trial in San Jose and will race to the top of Mt. Diablo in the East Bay on the penultimate day.
"Taking the Amgen Tour of California from South to North is something we always knew we wanted to do, and we are thrilled with the way things have come together for 2013,” said race director Kristin Bachochin. "We think this will bring a whole new element to the competition for the elite cyclists who participate, not to mention some striking California scenery for our worldwide audience. California provides a variety of beautiful yet challenging terrain, helping us achieve our goal of creating a challenging route year after year while showcasing the very best this state has to offer."
Although the towns of Sonora, Modesto and Turlock applied to host the race, the Tour of California will bypass the Sierra mountain range, remaining west of the I-5 corridor for the majority of the route.
The race will open on May 12, 2013 with a circuit that starts and ends in Escondido, north of San Diego, which last hosted the race in 2009 with a stage that scaled Palomar Mountain.
"I'm very excited to hear about the new South - North route for the 2013 Amgen Tour of California," said 2011 winner Chris Horner. "After growing up in San Diego, I love seeing the race back on the roads I've ridden for the past 25 years. Being welcomed by thousands of fans in Escondido in 2009 was a highlight of my career, and I'm sure the crowds will be even more amazing for the 2013 edition. The Amgen Tour of California is one of my favorite races of the year, and I'm already looking forward to battling it out on the California roads again this May!"
The second stage will start in the nearby town of Murrieta and travel through the San Jacinto Mountains to the desert town of Palm Springs. A 120-mile transfer brings the riders to the start of the third stage in Palmdale, a city which has hosted the start of stages to Big Bear in two previous editions. The riders head to Santa Clarita, only 40 miles to the southwest, but will likely get there by way of the Angeles National Forest and the Angeles Crest Highway, which soars to nearly 8,000 feet in elevation.
The fourth stage heads from Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara on the coast, possibly passing through Thousand Oaks, the home of title sponsor Amgen.
Santa Barbara, which last hosted a stage in 2008, will also be the starting point for the fifth stage which travels up the Pacific Coast to Avila Beach, outside San Luis Obispo.
Another lengthy transfer brings the riders to San Jose for the stage 6 time trial. San Jose is the only city to feature in all eight editions of the Tour of California. The test will be only a warm-up for the decisive queen stage, which starts in Livermore and ends atop Mt. Diablo, a 10.8-mile ascent with an average grade of 5.7%, kicking up to 15% near the top.
The riders then transfer across the Bay Bridge for the start of the final stage in San Francisco, likely traversing the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and heading through the heart of California cycling country in Marin County en route to the finish in Santa Rosa.
"Santa Rosa had big crowds and a huge reception last year for the start, so it will be exciting to go back to the hometown of the BMC Racing Team. I also spent a little time last winter in Santa Barbara, so that should be a fun town to finish in as well. As an American cyclist, the Amgen Tour of California is always a priority for me and our team, and I am looking forward to racing in California again in 2013."
“Each of the Host City partners announced today is unique in its own way and brings character to our race,” continued Bachochin. “We are looking forward to another exciting year and another intense competition.”
The 2013 Tour of California
Stage 1: Sunday, May 12 – Escondido
Stage 2: Monday, May 13 – Murrieta to Greater Palm Springs
Stage 3: Tuesday, May 14 – Palmdale to Santa Clarita
Stage 4: Wednesday, May 15 – Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara
Stage 5: Thursday, May 16 – Santa Barbara to Avila Beach
Stage 6: Friday, May 17 – San Jose (Individual Time Trial)
Stage 7: Saturday, May 18 – Livermore to Mt. Diablo
Stage 8: Sunday, May 19 – San Francisco to Santa Rosa
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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.