Your 2012 Amgen Tour race, cycling past a town near you

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Sometimes it starts or ends at a San Fernando Valley-centric location. Like, at the Amgen offices in Thousand Oaks, after a jaunt through Agoura Hills.

Or at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Or somewhere in Santa Clarita.

They like to mix things up, those race organizers. Keep it fresh.

This morning, we’re told that the host cities for the 2012 Amgen Tour of California will be taking a 750-mile path less traveled from May 13 to 20.

The committee says it reviewed more than 100 city submissions hoping to be named the start, or finish, spot, so if you didn’t make the final 13 cut, don’t be too bummed out.

“Our goal for the Amgen Tour of California has always been to create a route that not only provides a challenging race for the world’s top cyclists, but one that highlights the beauty and diverse terrain that make up the great state of California as well,” said Kristin Bachochin, executive director of the Amgen Tour of California.

“Every year we challenge ourselves to raise the bar once again and create a route more challenging than the last, but that’s the great thing about planning a race in California, there is so much from which we can choose. From epic climbs to fast and flat stages to rolling hills and thrilling finishes by the sea, California has it all.”

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That said, Stage 1 will be in Santa Rosa — hometown of three-time Amgen Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer.

Stage 2: San Francisco, with the Golden Gate bridge in the background. Nice photo op.

Stage 3: San Jose, which has been part of this thing all six years, to Livermore — a whole new section of the state we haven’t cycled through before.

Stage 4: Sonora, another newbie, with a sprint to Clovis.

Stage 5: A time trial in Bakersfield. They’ll be looking at their watches likely wondering when they get to leave Bakersfield.

Stage 6: From Palmdale to Big Bear Lake, with a new climb thrown in there.

Stage 7: Ontario, another new site, all the way to the top of Mt. Baldy. It’s 10 miles longer than last year’s leg.

Stage 8: The closer will be back at L.A. Live. Party time.

“This race is special because it takes place in one of the most beautiful places in the world – California,” said Chris Horner, 2011 Amgen Tour of California champion. “The Host Cities are always so welcoming and the crowds are always great, not to mention, they provide some of the toughest racing terrain around! I’m looking forward to racing in California again and defending my title in 2012.”

More info on the AEG-sponsored race: www.amgentourofcalifornia.com

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