The 2012 Amgen Tour of California is still three months away, but Wednesday afternoon the tour organizers released the official Tour route and a Tour map. This year's route will feature 750 miles of cycling from May 13 to May 20. Last year, weather conditions led to a delay in the race and cancellation of stage one. Hopefully this year will see better conditions and a complete race. Chris Horner claimed victory in the 2011 race and will likely be back to defend his crown.
The 2012 Tour will start in Northern California, head over to the Central Valley and then wrap up in Southern California. Stage one will start and end in Santa Rosa, which is the hometown of three-time winner Levi Leipheimer. Stage two will start on Marina Boulevard in San Francisco and go down Highway 1, ending in Aptos down in Santa Cruz County. Stage three will feature a fairly short ride from San Jose to Livermore. San Jose is the only city to host a stage every year of the Tour.
The Tour then heads over to the Central Valley where stage four takes the riders 130 miles from Sonora to Clovis in the longest stage of the race. Stage five features an individual time trial in Bakersfield that will last 18.4 miles. Stage six will run from Palmdale to Big Bear Lake. This stage will feature the first of a pair of brutal climbs with the Big Bear Climb. That will be followed on Saturday in stage seven with the always brutal Mt. Baldy climb. The race then wraps up in stage eight with a ride that starts on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and ends just past STAPLES Center at the LA Live finish line.
We'll have plenty more on the race as the teams are announced and details come out. Below is a map of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California. For more cycling coverage, head over to Podium Cafe.