Regional Digest: Field expanded to 18 teams for 2015 Amgen Tour of California

The field of this year’s Amgen Tour of California has been increased from 16 to 18 international and domestic teams for the eight-day race covering nearly 700 miles.

The first stage of the annual race will be in Sacramento on May 10. After a stage from Nevada City to Lodi on May 11 and one in San Jose on May 12, the race moves to the Central Coast and Southern California. It ends on May 17 with a stage from downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena.

Among the eight ranked UCI Pro Teams will be Tinkoff-Saxo, with sprinter Peter Sagan attempting to add to his race-record 11 stage wins; Team Giant-Alpecin, led by Marcel Kittel, one of the few cyclists to win all three Grand Tours; the Santa Rosa-based BMC Racing Team, an eight-time participant ranked second in the world; and Trek Factory Racing, which finished sixth last year.

One of the Professional Continental teams is MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, the first team from Africa to compete in the Amgen Tour. The team also recently became the first African-registered team to receive a wild-card invitation to the Tour de France for the 2015 race.

This year’s Amgen Tour also will include a three-day professional women’s race May 8-10 in South Lake Tahoe and a women’s invitational time trial in Big Bear Lake on May 15.

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Bee Sports staff

Republic extends Stewart’s contract

Republic FC forward Thomas Stewart has signed a two-year contract extension with a club option in 2017.

The Northern Ireland native led Republic FC with 11 USL Pro regular-season goals in the club’s inaugural season. Overall, Stewart played in 28 matches with 17 starts and scored 13 goals and had four assists.

Before coming to Sacramento, Stewart had spent his entire pro career overseas playing in Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland.

He scored 21 goals and appeared in 74 matches for the Shamrock Rovers FC of the League of Ireland Premier Division during two separate stints.

Bill Paterson