It’s not like the Amgen Tour of California is going backward in how it has laid out its 2013 version of the most popular U.S. cycling event of the year.
Tour officials released a more detailed look today at how the race, for the first time in the eight years, will begin with a far south stage — in Escondito, on Sunday, May 12 — and then head north about 750 miles.
The finish is at the top of Mount Diablo, the 3,864-peak in the San Francisco Bay area, followed by a loop in the final Stage 8 around San Francisco on Sunday, May 19.
Santa Clarita remains in the loop at the end of Stage 3 (with Magic Mountain Parkway as the finish line) and the start of Stage 4. There’s also a trip through Palm Springs and Murrieta included for the first time. The Inland Empire, which had been included in past races, will not be part of this one.
“We take great pride in creating challenging, beautiful Amgen Tour of California routes that attract top international riders and showcase the state’s amazing terrain and scenery,” said Kristin Bachochin, executive director of the race and senior vice president of AEG Sports.
“We also consider the many fan and rider route suggestions before we settle on a final course. This year will be not only the most competitive but the most spectacular with diverse California scenery, from coastal routes to mountain vistas.”
Last year’s final stage started on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and ended at L.A. Live — right across the street from where the Kings were in a Stanley Cup playoff game at Staples Center.
Here’s how it lays out for 2013:
Stage 1: Sunday, May 12 – Escondido
Start/Finish: Broadway and Grand Ave.
Start Time: 11:15 a.m.
Stage Length: 104.3 miles
Highlights: It includes a climb up Mount Palomar, comparable to the Alpe d’Huez at the Tour de France.
Stage 2: Monday, May 13 – Murrieta to Greater Palm Springs
Start: Murrieta City Hall/Town Square Park
Finish: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Start Time: 10:20 a.m.
Stage Length: 126.1 miles
Highlights: It goes south through Temecula Valley Wine Country, a climb up the San Jacinto Mountains to Idyllwild, then down into the Coachella Valley and Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City and Palm Springs. The stage will finish as riders climb Tramway Road to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway parking lot. The last 3.8 miles of the race will gain 1,880 feet of elevation – one of the toughest climbs anywhere.
Stage 3: Tuesday, May 14 – Palmdale to Santa Clarita
Start: Marie Kerr Park
Finish: Magic Mountain Parkway
Start Time: 11:20 a.m.
Stage Length: 111.8 miles
Highlights: Featured is a 22-mile climb up Lake Hughes Road and following the route of the famous Furnace Creek 508, the ultra-endurance race through Santa Clarita. The peloton will likely break apart on the massive climb, but an 18-mile descent to the finish will give the riders a chance to regroup.
Stage 4: Wednesday, May 15 – Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara
Start: Theater Drive and Town Center
Finish: Cabrillo Blvd.
Start Time: 12:35 p.m.
Stage Length: 84.7 miles
Highlights: It will look similar to past races — just in reverse. After seeing desert in Stage 3, here are the ocean breezes at the end, but with some headwinds to deal with. A sprint in Ojai, then the climb up Casitas Pass will give way to long downhill and flat finish along the beach in Santa Barbara.
Stage 5: Thursday, May 16 – Santa Barbara to Avila Beach
Start: Cabrillo Blvd.
Finish: Front St.
Start Time: 11 a.m.
Stage Length: 116.4 miles
Highlights: It’s up the steep and windy San Marcos Pass along state Route 154 before descending into the Lake Cachuma Recreation Area. Going by Los Olivos, Orcutt and Guadalupe, a sprint in Arroyo Grande will foreshadow an anticipated massive sprint to the finish in Avila Beach.
Stage 6: Friday, May 17 – San Jose (Individual Time Trial)
Start: Bailey Ave.
Finish: Metcalf Road – Metcalf Motorcycle Park
Start Time: 12:50 p.m.
Stage Length: 19.6 miles
Highlights: San Jose is the only city to participate in all eight editions of the race. This 19.6-mile stage features a climb of nearly 1,000 feet in elevation and attack several pitches with a grade of 10 percent or more.
Stage 7: Saturday, May 18 – Livermore to Summit of Mount Diablo
Start: 3rd St./Carnegie Park
Finish: Mount Diablo – summit parking lot
Start Time: 11:35 a.m.
Stage Length: 93 miles
Highlights: The riders will navigate narrow, twisting climbs through bucolic farm country and redwoods before making a roller-coaster descent. There’s a sprint in Livermore and then to a 4.5 mile climb up Mount Diablo, with views up to 200 miles in any direction.
Stage 8: Sunday, May 19 – San Francisco to Santa Rosa
Start: Marina Green
Finish: 3rd Street and Santa Rosa Ave.
Start Time: 8:15 a.m.
Stage Length: 86.2 miles
Highlights: It winds through San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, Highway 1, Point Reyes National Seashore, Occidental and Santa Rosa. NBC wants the early start time so it can capture the six-minute crossing of the bridge — where the sidewalk will remain open for spectators.
Registration and further information about the various duties available is now available online at www.AmgenTourofCalifornia.com.
== Last year’s race story