Cycling road race travels through Murrieta on its way up the state


The 2013 Amgen Tour of California (ATOC) presented by AEG kicked off last Sunday, May 5, in Escondido. Over 100,000 spectators lined the streets to watch 128 riders from sixteen elite professional cycling teams from around the world compete in an eight-day, eight-stage Tour de France-style cycling road race.

The elite field includes seven World Champions, eleven current National Champions (of their respective countries), eleven Tour de France Stage Winners, a Tour de France Champion, two Grand Tour Overall Podium Finishers, and the second-ranked cyclist in the world Cannondale Pro Cycling’s Peter Sagan, among many other elite cyclists. The event attracts top international talent as well as young developing talent from numerous domestic teams.

“It is a world-class event,” said eight-time Amgen Tour of California veteran and Radio Shack Leopard Trek cyclist Jens Voight. “It is a great race, and that’s one of the reasons I keep coming back here every year.”

Lawson Craddock, a 21-year-old cyclist, says, “The Amgen Tour of California is obviously the toughest and biggest race in California. So just to be able to compete in it at such a young age and to be here with Bontrager is such an honor.”

The race is the largest cycling event in America and one of the top races in the world. The race is being run from south to north for the first time, covering nearly 750 miles of California’s most scenic highways, roadways and coastlines over eight days, concluding on May 19. Three ATOC Honor Rides help raise funds for Ride 2 Recovery.

Stage 1 in Escondido featured an 11,000 foot vertical climb at 5,000 ft elevation on Mt Palomar. The fist stage winner was Lieuwe Westra (Netherlands) of Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling who crossed the finish line four seconds ahead of Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spain). Sagan was third.

Stage 2 started at 9 a.m. in Murrieta at Town Hall. Mayor Rick Gibbs was on hand to welcome the cyclists, organizers and fans. Actor Patrick Dempsey (best known as “McDreamy” on Grey’s Anatomy) joined the start activities as the ambassador for Breakaway from Cancer, a national initiative to increase awareness of important resources available to people from prevention through survivorship. Dempsey’s mother is a three-time cancer survivor.

The race started up Cal Oaks Road, turned right on Clinton Keith, followed the frontage road up 215 to Scott Road across Winchester (north of French Valley), down Washington past Temecula Prep School to Borel Road, up Rancho California to Benton Road and left on Sage Road to Hemet.

The route went down Stetson Avenue in Hemet then entered the longest stretch of the race down Hwy 74 (Pines to Palms Hwy) to Palm Desert, up Hwy 111 to Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City, to Palm Springs and finally up the steep uphill to the world-famous tramway at Mt San Jacinto State Park.

Cyclists were battling more than the 124.1 mile distance and the deceptively steep climb; temperatures reached 114 degrees. The temperature took its toll on many riders.

At the end of Stage 2, Janier Alexis Acevedo (Team Jamis-Hagens Berman) from Colombia finished hard to claim first, Tajay van Garderen from the USA (BMC Racing Team) was second by 12 seconds; Philip Deignan (United healthcare Pro Cycdling Team) from Ireland was third.

Stage 3 starts in Palmdale and ends in Santa Clarita. Stage 4 covers 83.6 miles from Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara. Stage 5 on Thursday crosses over the San Marcos pass to end in Avila Beach. Stage 6 consists of individual time trials in San Jose. Stage 7 starts in Livermore and finishes on the Mt Diablo Summit. The final stage starts in San Francisco and finishes in Santa Rosa. The race can be followed live on NBC Sports.

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Colombian Cyclist Wins Tour of California Stage Amid Record-Breaking Heat

PALM SPRINGS – The Tour of California’s debut in Riverside County today resulted in the hottest temperatures for a major U.S. cycling stage race, according to organizers.

Janier Alexis Acevedo of Colombia won the 124.1-mile stage from Murrieta to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway in five hours, seven minutes, 40 seconds, 12 seconds ahead of Tejay van Garderen of Bozeman, Mont. amid temperatures as high as 114 degrees.

Some cyclists were rehydrated with fluids following the finish, while others sat on the pavement and had ice packs and cold cloths put on their heads and backs.

Pieter Serry of Belgium paused on the final ascent to be cooled with ice in hopes of recovering enough to finish within the time limit to remain in the eight-stage race, which will conclude Sunday. Serry finished last in the stage, more than 37 minutes behind Acevedo.

”It’s never been this hot in Ireland,” third-place finisher Philip Denignan said.

Acevedo took the overall lead of the race officially known as the Amgen Tour of California through two stages, 12 seconds ahead of van Garderen.

The stage began in Murrieta and headed to Hemet and East Hemet. The cyclists then climbed the San Jacinto Mountains to Idyllwild, followed by a descent on state Route 74 into the Coachella Valley.

The stage passed through Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City and Palm Springs, concluding on the slopes to Tram Way, a 3.6-mile climb near the northern entrance to Coachella Valley that averages more than 9 percent gradient.

The race will continue Tuesday with a 110.3-mile stage from Palmdale to Santa Clarita.

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