The host cities for Amgen Tour of California professional cycling road race were announced this morning and Santa Clarita gets a bye this time around.
The announcement was made via Twitter around 9 a.m. today, involving Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and cyclists Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Dave Zabriskie and George Hincapie, who all agreed to participate.
The 2010 Amgen Tour of California will travel to 16 host cities throughout the state over the course of eight days from May 16-23. After four years of being positioned in February, the date change will allow the Tour de France-style road race to visit locations that wouldn't have been possible in February, including the very first mountain-top finish in race history.
The Amgen Tour of California will cover more than 750 miles of beautiful California terrain, beginning with the first ever visit to Nevada City, which will also be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Nevada City Classic, in which many notable riders got their start. The eight-day race will travel through some of the state's most scenic landmarks, with the overall finish taking place in title sponsor Amgen's hometown community of Thousand Oaks.
Beginning with a road stage, a first for the race, the 2010 Amgen Tour of California will visit 16 host cities for official stage starts and finishes, while other cities along the route also will have the opportunity to witness the excitement of elite professional cycling. Stages for the 2010 Amgen Tour of California include:
Stage 1: Sunday, May 16 - Nevada City to Sacramento
Stage 2: Monday, May 17 - Davis to Santa Rosa
Stage 3: Tuesday, May 18 - San Francisco to Santa Cruz
Stage 4: Wednesday, May 19 - San Jose to Modesto
Stage 5: Thursday, May 20 - Visalia to Bakersfield
Stage 6: Friday, May 21 - Pasadena to Big Bear Lake
Stage 7: Saturday, May 22 - Los Angeles (individual time trial)
Stage 8: Sunday, May 23 - Thousand Oaks/Westlake Village/Agoura Hills
"For the 2010 Amgen Tour of California we had the unique opportunity to move our race to a part of the year when we are almost guaranteed great weather in California," said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports. "This timing will help us to better showcase the beautiful features the state of California has to offer, while allowing us to travel to parts of the state that just weren't feasible in previous years."
Highlights of the route brought on by the date change and new host cities include the race's first venture into the Sierras and the Sequoia National Forest, creating a new backdrop for America's largest cycling event. Another exciting addition to the 2010 race, the first-ever mountaintop finish in Big Bear Lake, will give fans the opportunity to see each and every cyclist in a grueling battle to the Stage 6 finish line.
For the first time in the race's storied five-year history the route will travel through the city of Los Angeles. Stage 7, the individual time trial, a significant stage in the race, will take place in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. The stage will both begin and end at L.A. LIVE, home to Staples Center and the Nokia Theatre.
"Choosing the host cities for the Amgen Tour of California gets more and more difficult every year, as interest in the race continues to grow throughout the state," continued Messick. "We are fortunate to have visited some of the best cities in the state during the last four years and the list keeps growing with the addition of four brand new cities in 2010."
With the timing of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California moved to later in the year, giving the cyclists even more time to train, the competition will be even tougher. In previous years, the race has drawn some of the world's most renowned and respected riders, such as top Tour de France competitors, World Champions and Olympic medalists that include Lance Armstrong, Tom Boonen, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini, Fabian Cancellara, Carlos Sastre, George Hincapie, Mark Cavendish and Andy Schleck.
After the 2009 Amgen Tour of California, three-time defending champion and Santa Rosa resident Levi Leipheimer went on to compete in the Tour de France, but unfortunately suffered a crash during Stage 12 that took him out of the race. After a few weeks of recovery time, Leipheimer, who recently announced that he will race during the 2010 season for Lance Armstrong's newly formed Team RadioShack, returned to take sixth place in the Tour of Missouri.
"To win the Amgen Tour of California once, that was huge. To win it twice, that was almost a little bit of a surprise and almost felt like luck. But now, to have won the Amgen Tour of California three times, it's the sweetest victory of all. It's hard to describe," said Leipheimer, after his 2009 victory.
Returning as the title sponsor for the fifth consecutive year, Amgen will continue to leverage the race to raise awareness and support for people affected by cancer through the Breakaway from Cancer® initiative. A leading global biotechnology company with headquarters in Thousand Oaks, one of the 2010 race host cities, Amgen's invaluable support has helped to ensure the continued success of the race and impact beyond the sporting arena.