Stage one of the 2012 Tour of California begins and ends in Santa Rosa, home to three time ToC champion Levi Leipheimer. Two neutral laps through town will give locals a good glimpse at the peloton, and then it's 116 miles out and back. There are several sprint sections through the stage, meaning the fight for the points jersey starts right away. Two climbs near the coastline offer spectacular views and technical, tricky descents, and then it's flat back into Santa Rosa for what will likely be a sprint finish.
Unlike longer races like the Grand Tours, the Tour of California tends to get down to business right away, and it's long enough that someone who makes the right plays on stage one can hold on to the lead the whole way through. There's no clear favorite in this year's race, so someone may look to make a statement on day one. Things get underway in Santa Rosa at 10:50am PST, and day one promises plenty of action. Keep your eyes on defending champion Chris Horner, Garmin Barracuda's Tom Danielson, and Team BMC's young contender Tejay Van Garderen.