Associated PressBrent Brookwater

Amgen Tour of California to return to San Francisco in 2012

The Amgen Tour of California will revisit its birthplace in 2012, returning to San Francisco after a one-year hiatus.

Stage 2 of the eight-day race, the largest and most prestigious American professional cycling race, will start in San Francisco near the Golden Gate Bridge and venture south along the coast to Santa Cruz.

The race will run from May 13 through May 20, returning to The City on May 14.

While the exact course has not yet been revealed, the broad parameters of the race’s route were released on Thursday.

Stage 1 will once again begin in Santa Rosa, home to three-time tour champion Levi Leipheimer.

Following the Peninsula-focused second stage, Stage 3 will begin in San Jose and head toward Livermore, probably across the mountains of the challenging Diablo Range.

The Central Valley will host the race’s next two legs, with Stage 4 heading south from the foothill town of Sonora to Clovis, north of Fresno. Stage 5, this year’s individual time trial will take place in Bakersfield.

Stage 6 will start in Palmdale and head toward the mountainous terrain of Big Bear Lake. And speaking of mountains, Stage 7 will start in Ontario and once again climb to the top of Mt. Baldy, where 2011 tour winner Chris Horner cemented his overall victory with his race-leading ascent of the 10,064-foot-peak.

The race’s final stage will occur in downtown Los Angeles.

“Our goal for the Amgen Tour of California has always been to create a route that not only provides a challenging race for the world’s top cyclists, but one that highlights the beauty and diverse terrain that make up the great state of California,” new tour Executive Director Kristin Bachochin said in a statement.

sbuel@sfexaminer.com

AEG, organizer of the Tour of California, shares the same owners as Clarity Media, which oversees The Examiner.

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