America's Tour de France: the Amgen Tour of California Bicycle Race
It is America's premiere 750 mile bicycle race, an equivalent to France's Tour de France, on a smaller scale in space and time. It is a race attracting the world famous bicycle teams and their famous personalities like Lance Armstrong. Unlike the Tour de France, which is continuous, the Tour of California is done in sections in different parts of California. It is televised live on NBC sport network at 1 p,m,, Pacific Time or online at: amgentourofcalifornia.com.
The race has seven stages. Stage 1 in Santa Rosa to Pacific Ocean and back with climbs to 1500 ft. It is 115 miles. Stage 2 from San Francisco to Santa Cruz area with climbs to 3000 ft. It is 117 miles. Stage 3 from San Jose to Livermore with climbs to 2500 ft. It is 115 miles. Stage 4 is from Sonora to Clovis. This is 130 miles starting in central California and passes Yosemite National Park, climbs to 3700 ft. Stage 5 is flat. Its a speed race in the Bakersfield area. just north of LA. Stage 6 is a grueling run from Palmdale to LA's Big Bear Lake, the Lake Tahoe for Southern California. It is 115 miles long with climbs to 7500 ft. Stage 7 is its brother, another 78 mile race from Ontario to Mt. Baldy and climbs to 6000 ft. The race ends with Stage 8, a rolling hill sort of race from Beverly Hills to the city of Los Angeles.
The Tour of California starts May 13 and end May 20. After each stage is complete, the bicycle teams pack up and zoom to the next stage set up. It is a hectic week long event. Many of the racers are Olympic contenders and sharpening their competitive skills.
The 16 teams competing for the win come from a variety of countries: France, Belgium, US, Netherlands, Colombia, Canada, Australia and Italy.