Slovakian Peter Sagan, the reigning and two-time world champion, will compete in the Amgen Tour of California in 2017, event officials announced Tuesday while confirming the 12th annual bicycle race will begin in Sacramento.
As anticipated, the weeklong men’s race, one day shorter than in recent years, is scheduled May 14-20. A corresponding four-day women’s race is also scheduled May 11-14, beginning in South Lake Tahoe and ending in Sacramento. The opening men’s stage will likely take the field into the Sacramento Delta region before returning to Sacramento for late afternoon finishing circuits around Capitol Park.
Racing in the Amgen Tour of California is always one of my top priorities every year. While spectacular to watch from a scenic standpoint, the route is consistently tough and challenging and one that brings out the best in all of the riders.
Peter Sagan, 2015 Tour of California champion and reigning world champion
Stage distances and other route details were not announced. But the north-to-south trek, the reverse of this year’s race that ended in Sacramento, will cover an estimated 600 miles. It will mark the third time in four years the Tour of California has started in the capital.
“I’m not sure what to think of it until they announce the actual stages, but I am sure it will be very challenging like this year,” said Evan Huffman of El Dorado Hills, who finished second in Stage 2 and claimed the best climbers division this year. “I’m glad there will be a stage in Sacramento again.”
Following two stages ending at Heavenly Mountain Resort, Elk Grove – a first-time host – will entertain Stage 3 in the women’s race start. It will end in Sacramento, where the concluding Stage 4 will start and end.
Sagan, who won the 2015 Tour of California by three seconds and has competed for seven consecutive years, claimed two stages of this year’s race won by Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe. The sport’s top-ranked cyclist has won 89 races in his eight-year pro career, including a record 15 Tour of California stages. He claimed three Tour de France stages in July and won his second consecutive world road title in Qatar less than two months ago.
“Racing in the Amgen Tour of California is always one of my top priorities every year,” Sagan, 26, said in a press release. “While spectacular to watch from a scenic standpoint, the route is consistently tough and challenging and one that brings out the best in all of the riders.”
Following the flat Stage 1 in Sacramento, Stage 2 will begin in Modesto and advance to San Jose, the last Northern California stop. Stage 3 will be a coastal trek from Pismo Beach to Morro Bay followed by another long road race from Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita.
A summit finish to Mount Baldy in the San Gabriel Mountains will conclude the Stage 5 route from Ontario. Stage 6 will be a high-altitude individual time trial in Big Bear Lake, followed by the concluding Stage 7 road race from Mountain High to Pasadena.
The 2017 Tour of California has been elevated to the WorldTour, which means more of the sport’s elite international squads are mandated to compete. As a result, fewer Pro-Continental and Continental teams, usually featuring younger pros, will participate.
15 Peter Sagan’s record victory total of Tour of California stages
“I think it’s actually a good thing provided that there are plenty of races at the intermediate levels to offset it,” said Huffman, who rides for Rally Cycling, a U.S. Continental team. “I believe it’s coming at the right time with the new races in Colorado and Virginia.
“This way you still have most or all domestic teams getting the opportunity to race a big event and the teams that still do get into California get an even higher level race.”
Megan Guarnier, a part-time resident of San Mateo and a 2016 U.S. Olympian, will defend her 2016 title.
“The Amgen Tour of California has been a superb addition to the Women’s World Tour calendar,” said Guarnier, who won the opening stage this year. “I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to race at the highest level on American soil.”
Competing teams, additional key riders and exact stage routes are traditionally announced periodically as the race approaches.
Amgen Tour of California
Sunday, May 14, Stage 1, Sacramento (road race)
Monday, May 15, Stage 2, Modesto to San Jose (road race)
Tuesday, May 16, Stage 3, Pismo Beach to Morro Bay (road race)
Wednesday, May 17, Stage 4, Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita (road race)
Thursday, May 18, Stage 5, Ontario to Mount Baldy (road race, summit finish)
Friday, May 19, Stage 6, Big Bear Lake (individual time trial)
Saturday, May 20, Stage 7, Mountain High to Pasadena (road race)
Thursday, May 11, Stage 1, South Lake Tahoe (road race)
Friday, May 12, Stage 2, South Lake Tahoe (road race)
Saturday, May 13, Stage 3, Elk Grove to Sacramento (road race)
Sunday, May 14, Stage 4, Sacramento (circuit race)