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Preview: Tour of California gears up for 10th year

The peloton speed by at the Tour of California 2014

The peloton speed by at the Tour of California 2014
(Image credit: AFP)

In the tradition-rich world of cycling, where some of the oldest monuments reach back into history more than a hundred years, a single decade marks a race that hasn't yet hit adolescence. But for the Amgen Tour of California, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, a decade has sometimes seemed like a liftetime.

The race has witnessed monsoon-like conditions in the early years when it was on the calendar in February. It persevered through a snowed-out stage during a planned start at Lake Tahoe in 2011. It survived several invasions by Rock Racing and its flamboyant owner Michael Ball, who had three riders cover stage routes ahead of the 2008 race after being excluded by organisers. The race was the site of a showdown between an icon of the sport, Lance Armstrong and his dogged accuser Floyd Landis, and it was the unwilling host for headline-stealing revelations from the race's first winner that would eventually prove true and rock the sport to its core.

It all seems like an awful lot for one decade, but the UCI 2.HC race that started in the still-warm glow of Armstrong's seven Tour de France wins, which have since been vacated by the UCI, continues to thrive and even expand this year.

The eight-day race, an entity of Anschutz Entertainment Group, the world's largest owner of sports teams and events, has grown into an important preparation race for the Tour de France in July. AEG invited 18 men's teams to the race this year, more than ever before, and it has added a three-day women's UCI race to the mix.

Eight WorldTour teams will compete in the 2015 race, including Team Sky, Etixx-QuickStep, BMC Racing, Giant-Alpecin, Tinkoff-Saxo, Trek Factory Racing, LottoNL-Jumbo and Cannondale-Garmin. MTN-Qhubeka, Drapac Pro Cycling, UnitedHealthcare and Novo Nordisk represent the Pro Continental ranks, while US domestic teams include Optum-Kelly benefit Strategies, Jelly Belly-Maxxis, Jamis-Hagens Berman, Hincapie Racing, Axeon Cycling and Team SmartStop.

The California coast has provided a beautiful backdrop for the race

Crosswinds helped Jens Voigt steal a stage from the sprinters at Avila Beach in 2013

Robert Gesink celebrates his 2012 win

Peter Sagan wins stage 7 in Pasadena during the 2014 Tour of California

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