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Amgen Tour of California off to a great start

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The Amgen Tour of California got off to a very good start on Sunday, May 11 in Sacramento. Fair weather, light winds, and a 123 mile Stage 1 route all added to the start of this year's Tour.

The last time the Tour rode into Sacramento was in 2011. That year the start was supposed to have been in South Lake Tahoe. A vigorous and very cold May snowstorm changed all of that the night before the start.

The roads around the lake were simply too icy. Race officials moved the start to Nevada City in the very early morning hours due to the conditions in the mountains. Nevada City did a spectacular job on very short notice to make it all happen. It was as if the start was supposed to be there all along.

This year the start and finish was Sacramento. The route took riders up to Auburn and from there Highway 49 became the race route. The riders followed 49 down to Cool, then rode out to El Dorado Hills.

From there the road went to Sloughouse and back into Sacramento. Cycling fans simply had to hang out in downtown Sacramento to see both ends of the race.

Mark Cavendish (Omgea) took the first stage by edging out John Dekenkolb (Giant) by the width of race tire. The 123 miles of racing came down to that.

The riders will spend 7 days on the road, with 1 day the Stage 2 Time Trial. That time trial was won by Tour de France and Olympic Champion Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), who stayed in the gold leaders jersey after the Stage 3 finish atop Mt. Diablo.

The race route this year will cover 720 miles of stunning California countryside. The last stage will finish in Thousand Oaks on May 18.

The Amgen has gained in importance and popularity over the 9 years it has raced. 16 teams, Pro Continental, Continental, and UCI Pro, were selected for this years edition. The international mix of teams attests to the importance this race is given by the pro teams.

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