Tour of California 2011 host cities announced

Amgen Tour of California 2011 organizer AEG announced the host cities for next year’s race.

Amgen Tour of California 2011 host cities map
The 2011 Amgen Tour of California will travel to and through 15 host cities throughout California over the course of eight days from May 15-22, 2011. Last year’s date change from February to May allowed the professional cycling road race to visit locations that would not have been possible previously, including a visit to Big Bear Lake. Due to the success of the 2010 race, the event will take place again in May.

The race will begin at South Lake Tahoe on Sunday, May 15 with a finish at Northstar Ski Resort at North Lake Tahoe, with a portion of the race crossing into neighboring Nevada for the first time. Other communities selected are North Lake Tahoe-Squaw Valley USA (new for 2011), Sacramento, Auburn (new for 2011), Modesto, Livermore (new for 2011), San Jose, Seaside, Paso Robles, Solvang, Claremont (new for 2011), Mt. Baldy (new for 2011), Santa Clarita and Thousand Oaks.

Amgen Tour of California 2011 Stages

Stage 1: Sunday, May 15 – South Lake Tahoe to North Lake Tahoe-Northstar at Tahoe Resort
Stage 2: Monday, May 16 – North Lake Tahoe-Squaw Valley USA to Sacramento
Stage 3: Tuesday, May 17 – Auburn to Modesto
Stage 4: Wednesday, May 18 – Livermore to San Jose
Stage 5: Thursday, May 19 – Seaside to Paso Robles
Stage 6: Friday, May 20 – Solvang Individual Time Trial
Stage 7: Saturday, May 21 – Claremont to Mt. Baldy
Stage 8: Sunday, May 22 – Santa Clarita to Thousand Oaks

50 communities across California submitted proposals to host a stage of the Tour of California. According to Andrew Messick of AEG, more cities applied this year than in any year past, in spite of the continuing economic recession. “We want to go to places where cycling is loved and we want to go to new places each year,” Messick said in a news conference this morning.

When asked why San Jose is a perennial pick, Messick responded that “the future of the race is predicated on how much people care about all kinds of bike riding. San Jose is very forward thinking and progressive in promoting all kinds of cycling. That’s important to us; we like that San Jose believes cycling is important.” AEG are looking at a stage finish in San Jose along Sierra Road or Metcalf Road after what Messick describes will be “a compelling & difficult mountain stage between Livermore and San Jose,” including the climb over “iconic Mount Hamilton.”

Central Valley communities lost out this year because of this year’s routing along the Central Coast as Stage 5 races down the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway from Seaside (near Monterey) to Paso Robles.

Messick calls Stage 7 from Claremont to the Mount Baldy ski area “The Queen Stage of the Race.” The miles of switchbacks and steep grades along Glendora Mountain Road and Glendora Ridge Road are a favorite for southern California road cyclists, and Messick says route planners are looking at those roads with a stage finish at the ski lift area beyond Mt Baldy village.

The 2011 Tour of California will have comparable mileage and elevation, but the race routes, which will be announced sometime in December or January, put climbs closer to the finish to make the climbs more decisive.

The only American race listed on the international professional cycling calendar with a 2. HC ranking, the Amgen Tour of California has drawn the attention of both cycling enthusiasts and first-time spectators, solidifying its position as one of the most anticipated cycling events of the year.

With the 2011 Amgen Tour of California once again taking place in May, the cyclists will have more time to train, and the competition promises to 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, Ivan Basso, George Hincapie, Mark Cavendish and Andy Schleck.

“I was in as good of shape the past three years [when I won the Amgen Tour of California] as I am now,” said Levi Leipheimer, race winner from 2007-2009, after the 2010 race. “The difference this year is that you see a couple of riders on the same level. The competition has definitely risen.”

“For our team, there’s only one race more important to us than the Amgen Tour of California, and that’s the Tour de France. This is a huge result for us. We can really walk away from the 2010 Amgen Tour of California with big smiles on our faces,” said Australian Michael Rogers of Team HTC-Columbia after winning the 2010 race.

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