Climbers, sprinters, all-arounders, Olympic medalists, Tour de France stage winners, world titlists, new pros and peloton veterans.
The 17 men’s teams and 15 women’s squads in the 13th annual Amgen Tour of California are as diverse as the fields in any pro bike race.
Three stages of the race will touch the Sacramento region, beginning with the conclusion of Stage 5 in Elk Grove on Thursday. The race kicks off in Long Beach on Sunday. It will conclude in downtown Sacramento on May 19.
Here’s a look at seven riders to watch:
From: Great Britain
Team: Dimension Data
Now in his 14th pro season, the 10-time Tour of California stage winner has had the bad luck season of his stellar career. He’s crashed out of three races this season, most recently in Milan-San Remo in mid-March. Cavendish returned to racing early this month at the Tour de Yorkshire hoping to add to his 146 career wins and with an eye toward the Tour de France, where he’s won 30 stages.
A career season in 2017 with seven wins, including two stage wins at the Tour of California, catapulted Huffman into a team leader’s role this season. Married since last fall, Huffman finished third in the individual time trial at the recent Tour of the Gila. He worked in a support role for teammate and race winner Rob Britton. Now it’s Huffman turn to lead the squad.
The three-time world road champion is again cycling’s No. 1-ranked rider. He’s won 104 races and is in his 10th pro season. He’ll be competing in the Tour of California for the ninth time and has at least one stage win every year and an event-record 16. Despite his stellar career, Sagan hadn’t won a Monument (cycling’s top-five one-day races) until April, when he claimed Paris-Roubaix, the cobblestone classic. He won the 2015 Tour of California.
From: Santa Rosa
After competing in the Tour of Italy last season (held concurrently with the Tour of California) in a support role, Stetina returns this year as a team leader with a vivid memory. He finished second in the mountainous Stage 3 two years ago to Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe, the eventual race winner. Stetina is now three years removed from a crash in Europe that resulted in multiple leg fractures and that nearly ended his career. He won his first race since, a stage of a regional Cascade Classic in Oregon, last July. Stetina finished sixth overall in the Tour of California in 2014.
From: San Mateo
Team: USA Cycling National Team
The 2016 Tour of California titlist is a three-time national road champion who lives part-time in the Bay Area but also in France, where she prefers long training treks in the mountains. Guarnier’s Boels-Dolmans trade team won’t be competing, but Guarnier will lead a USA Cycling composite squad. She won the Tour of California's opening stage last year and recently was the overall winner at the Tour of Yorkshire.
Close finishes are common in bike racing, but overall titles determined by bonus are rare. Hall knows the latter well, after finishing second overall last year in the Tour of California by one second via bonus time to Anna van der Breggen of the Netherlands. Hall, a Cal graduate, won Tour of California’s opening stage in 2015 and the second stage last year. She's a favorite for the overall title this year after early season overall titles at the Joe Martin Stage Race and the Tour of the Gila.
A competitor since her preteen days when she rode tandems with her father, Rivera has emerged among the elite in the international peloton. She became the first American to win the Tour of Flanders last year and had six season victories. Rivera won last year’s Tour of California Stage 3 from Elk Grove to Sacramento and was second in the concluding circuit race in Sacramento.
Tour of California
When: May 13-19
Where: Long Beach-Sacramento
- Stage 1, Sunday, May 13, Long Beach, 83.6 miles (134.5 kilometers)
- Stage 2 Monday, May 14, Ventura to Gibraltar Road (San Jose), 97.6 miles (157 km)
- Stage 3, Tuesday, May 15, King City to Laguna Seca (Salinas), 122.4 miles (197 km)
- Stage 4, Wednesday, May 16, San Jose/Morgan Hill, 21.6 miles (34.7 km)
- Stage 5, Thursday, May 17, Stockton to Elk Grove, 109.7 miles (176.5 km)
- Stage 6 Friday, May 18, Folsom to South Lake Tahoe, 122.1 miles (196.5 km)
- Stage 7, Saturday, May 19, Sacramento, 88.9 miles (143 km)
When: May 17-19
Where: Elk Grove-Sacramento
- Stage 1, Thursday, May 17, Elk Grove, 77.1 miles (124 km)
- Stage 2, Friday, May 18, South Lake Tahoe, 67.1 miles (108 km)
- Stage 3, Saturday, May 19, Sacramento, 43.5 miles (70 km)