AEG Sports, organisers of the 7th Amgen Tour of California, announced today the details of the 2012 route which goes higher and could prove far more difficult than any edition to date.
"We take great pride in developing the route for the Tour of California, not only because it attracts the world's elite cyclists, but because it puts an international spotlight on California for eight days," said Kristin Bachochin, executive director of the race and senior vice president of AEG Sports.
The race takes in most of the climbs which have become iconic to the event - from the Coleman Valley ascent on stage 1, Bonny Doon Road on stage 2 to the summit finishes at Big Bear and Mt. Baldy, but local fans will be most excited to see the inclusion of Mount Diablo on the third day - one of the most frequently requested features in fan feedback - albeit not as a summit finish.
"We spend countless hours poring over possible route scenarios and taking into account fan and rider suggestions before determining the final course; it is a true labor of love," said Bachochin.
The race will visit a piece of California history in the preserved Gold Rush town of Sonora on the edge of the Yosemite National Park on the year's longest stage - 140 miles from Clovis, where the race will help this town celebrate its 100th anniversary.
The race then returns to Bakersfield, last visited in 2010 this time for a challenging 18.4 mile individual time trial that incorporates the same climb up China Grade which brought so much drama to the 2010 edition.
With the pain of the time trial still in their legs, the riders will then face the first of two major mountaintop finishes: stage 6 from Palmdale to Big Bear, taking a slightly different route from the 2010 stage. This year's stage totals 115.7 miles and crests Mt. Emma and the Angeles Crest before losing 4000' of elevation. It then crosses Interstate 15 before rolling its way up to the base of Big Bear, with two mountain primes thrown in along the way.
Stage 7 nearly reproduces last year's stage to Mt. Baldy, this time starting from Ontario but keeping the same double pass on Glendora Ridge Road, taking in Glendora Mountain and the same lightning fast descent back to Glendora before ascending Glendora Mountain Road and then Mt. Baldy itself.
The final stage should be all but a parade lap around Los Angeles where, for the first time, the race visits famous tourists sites such as Beverly Hills, where the stage will commence, Hollywood, Sunset Boulevard, Chinatown and Dodger Stadium. The route concludes with a five mile circuit which finishes at L.A. Live.
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for in-depth analysis of the key stages.