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Men and women to watch in Amgen Tour of California races

Brent Bookwalter, left, is seen at the finish line of the men’s cycling road race final at the 2016 Rio Olympics on Aug. 6, 2016. Bookwalter is a rider to watch in this year’s Amgen Tour of California.
Brent Bookwalter, left, is seen at the finish line of the men’s cycling road race final at the 2016 Rio Olympics on Aug. 6, 2016. Bookwalter is a rider to watch in this year’s Amgen Tour of California. Associated Press file

A look at the top riders in the 12th Amgen Tour of California. The women’s four-stage event begins Thursday in South Lake Tahoe and concludes Sunday in Sacramento. The men’s seven-stage race begins Sunday in Sacramento and ends May 20 in Pasadena.

Men

Brent Bookwalter of Asheville, N.C. (BMC) – A strong overall rider who has excelled later in his career, Bookwalter, 33, finished third in the Tour Califonia last year. He’s now in his 10th pro season, all with BMC. He finished his fourth Tour de France last year and won stage 2 of the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado in 2015. Consistency rules in cycling and it’s Bookwalter’s strength.

Lawson Craddock of Austin, Texas (Cannondale-Drapac) – Eighth in his Tour of California debut in 2013, Craddock finished third in 2014 and fifth last year. The 25-year-old raced his first Tour de France last year and finished 124th. He’ll likely finish in the top five in the Tour of California again.

Evan Huffman of El Dorado Hills (Rally) – A strong time trial rider and climber, Huffman won the Tour of California’s best climber’s jersey last year. He won the time trial and overall title last month in the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico. It was the biggest win of the 27-year-old’s career and he’ll be a contender in the time trial and overall standings this year.

Alexander Kristoff of Oslo, Norway (Katusha-Alpecin) – Among the sport’s top sprinters, Kristoff has 62 career wins, including six this season. With the expected absence of sprint specialists Mark Cavendish and Nacer Bouhanni, Kristoff, 29, will be favored in flat stages, including Sunday’s Stage 1. He won the final stage last year in Sacramento.

Peter Sagan of Žilina, Slovakia (Bora-Hansgrohe) – There’s little the 27-year-old Sagan can’t do on a bike. He has 92 wins and 326 top-10 finishes in 594 career races dating to 2009. Sagan has three wins this year and has won at least one Tour of California stage in seven entries. A threat to win any stage, Sagan claimed stages 1 and 4 last year and finished 35th overall.

Women

Megan Guarnier of San Mateo (Boels-Dolmans) – She’s been a dominating U.S. rider for several seasons and there’s no reason to expect otherwise as Guarnier defends her 2016 Tour of California title. In addition to her Bay Area home, the 32-year-old Guarnier lives with her husband part-time in France where she often trains in the mountains. The 2016 U.S. Olympian is a three-time national road champion.

Katie Hall of Saratoga (UnitedHealthcare) – The Cal graduate won the Tour of California opening stage in 2015 and finished seventh overall last year. Hall, 30, won two stages of the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico last month and finished second overall. Look for her at the front toward the first two hilly stages in South Lake Tahoe.

Coryn Rivera of Tustin (Sunweb) – Rivera, 24, became the first American to win last month’s Tour of Flanders. She has two victories this season on the WorldTour, her first year on the top circuit. She’ll be favored in the two women’s Tour of California sprint stages where she has several career wins.

Alison Tetrick of Solvang (Cylance) – A consummate team rider, Tetrick will pedal in support of her Dutch teammate Kirsten Wild, who won the final Tour of California stage last year. Tetrick, raised in Redding and now living in Southern California, competed in triathlons before switching to cycling and turning pro. Look for Tetrick, 32, to control the field, particularly in flat stages.

Trixi Worrack of Cottbus, Germany (Canyon-SRAM) – After a one-year absence, the 35-year-old German rider is back. She won the 215 title via a final-day time bonus. The former Germany national road champion didn’t compete last year while recovering from a crash in which he lost her left kidney.

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