Two years gone from the Sacramento area, the Amgen Tour of California is back in the capital region, not just passing through but kicking off here and sticking around for an extra day.
The last time Sacramento hosted a stage of the race was in 2011, when the Nevada City-to-Sac route stood as Stage 2. The most-recent race that featured two Sacramento-area cities was 2010 when Nevada City-to-Sac was Stage 1 and Davis to Santa Rosa was Stage 2.
This year, Sundays Stage 1 of the 2014 ATOC begins and ends as a downtown Sacramento event, a weekend highlight and a chance for the citys fans of high-end bicycle racing to again show their ardor and discernment.
But in between the controlled chaos of the start and the ferocious finish at the state Capitol, riders will tour significant portion of the region, heading on a northeast path that swings through Auburn in Placer County before barreling back through parts of El Dorado County into the valley, cruising through southern Sacramento County, kissing Elk Grove, then pushing for a city finish.
Along with excellent viewing positions in downtown Sacramento, fans are expected to line the streets in Lincoln, Auburn and Cool, site of the races three sprints.
Bonus is the 12.5-mile individual time trial Monday in Folsom, a popular race of truth that gives each rider a chance to show off outside the team framework at the same time that Folsom can strut as part of a noted sporting event.
From there, the race works its way from San Jose down the coast to its Stage 8 finish in Thousand Oaks.
Also part of this years event are womens races during the first two days. On Sunday, following the start of the mens race, an anticipated field of 109 riders from 20 teams will ride a 1.25-mile criterium course around the Capitol.
A womens time trial will be held beginning at 11:20 a.m. Monday, preceding the mens time trial in Folsom. An invitation-only field of about 20 women will pedal the same 12.4-mile course that the men will use.
Focused coverage of the first two stages of the race will include online and print efforts by The Sacramento Bee.
Up-to-the-minute coverage of the race and the scenes surrounding the 16 participating teams and projected 128 riders - as well as thousands of fans - will be provided on live blogs Sunday and Monday featuring live Twitter feeds from reporters and other sources. Sundays live blog is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. for Stage 1 that is set for 10:50 a.m. On Monday, the live blog will begin at 10 a.m. for a 1:05 p.m. Stage 2 start.
People who want to contribute to the live blog may do so by including the hashtags #ATOC2014 or #TourofCali.
The Bees reporting will be provided by staff writers Blair Anthony Robertson and Richard Chang, along with noted freelance reporter and cycling expert James Raia. They will contribute to the live blog as well as post and update stories for sacbee.com and print publication.
Photography and video reportage will come from The Bees Randy Pench, Hector Amezcua and Randal Benton, all gathering images from various vantage points on the race routes, including from a motorcycle that will ride among competing cyclists.
There is no admission charged to watch the race.
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