The largest cycling event in America, the 2012 Amgen Tour of California, is returning to Eastern Madera County on May 16th. You may not be able to travel to see the Tour de France, but this exciting bike race may very well pass by your front door.
The world’s top professional cycling teams will be competing along a demanding course from May 13-20, with Stage 4 taking place in the Central Sierra, starting in Sonora, and finishing up in Clovis.
The 2012 Amgen Tour of California will roll off in Santa Rosa on Sunday, May 13th, and will be a battle between 16 of the world’s most elite cycling teams, winding through more than 750 miles of picturesque California highways and byways.
On Wednesday, May 16th, Stage 4 of the race will kick off in Sonora at 10:35am, and will be the longest stage of the 2012 Tour at 130.2 miles. It may also be the most difficult, as those familiar with Highway 49 may attest.
Once the riders reach Oakhurst, they will start the long climb up Road 426, which turns into Road 223 over Teaford, turn right at the stop sign at 223 & 221, and head south on Road 200 at Bass Fork. At O’Neals, the route veers left onto 211, and winds through the beautiful ranch lands just east of Highway 41, coming into Clovis from the north on Clovis Avenue, ending at the Sierra Vista Mall. Estimated time for the first finishers to arrive is 3:52pm.
The riders this year will (likely) not have to deal with the snow and ice that challenged them in 2009. But even with the sketchy road conditions of three years ago, it was an exciting experience. Standing next to the road as the racers fly by, hearing the “whzzzing” noise, and feeling the air rushing to get out of their way, is exhilarating. It’s also quite amazing how the little support vehicles and camera cars, zipping in and out, manage to avoid disaster as they all snake their way down the mountain.
The Tour will be broadcast live on NBC and NBC Sports Network, and fans will be able to following the race and have live updates, for the first time, by downloading the RadioShack Tour Tracker app free of charge for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices via iTunes and the Android store.
Link to Amgen Stage 4 map http://www.amgentourofcalifornia.com/docroot/media/2012/2012AToCStage4Mapv2.pdf
The 8 stages of the race are:
Stage 1 – Sunday, May 13- Santa Rosa
Stage 2 – Monday, May 14 – San Francisco to Santa Cruz County
Stage 3 – Tuesday, May 15 – San Jose to Livermore
Stage 4 – Wednesday, May 16 – Sonora to Clovis
Stage 5 – Thursday, May 17 – Bakersfield (Individual Time Trial)
Stage 6 – Friday, May 18 – Palmdale to Big Bear Lake
Stage 7 – Saturday, May 19 – Ontario to Mt. Baldy
Stage 8 – Sunday, May 20 – Beverly Hills to Los Angeles
For further information on the 2012 Amgen Tour of California visit www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.