We take a look at the American riders who could take overall victory at the 2017 Tour of California

For the first time in it’s 12-year history, the Tour of California is designated a WorldTour race by the UCI and a handful of American’s will be battling for the overall crown.

>>> Tour of California 2017 route guide

The race kicks off this Sunday with a flat circuit around the state’s capital of Sacramento and moves south over the course of next week, tackling some of the state’s most notorious climbs, eventually ending in Los Angeles.

Andrew Talansky on stage 14 of the 2016 Vuelta a EspaÒa

Although complete start lists for every team have yet to be announced, 12 WorldTour teams are confirmed with the main American general classification contenders targeting this race for the better part of the year.

Andrew Talansky (Cannondale – Drapac) will lead his team alongside Taylor Phinney and has been training from his home base in Napa for the past month in preparation. He was spotted winning the amateur Sea Otter Classic Road Race only three weeks ago.

“I’m feeling good, the last few weeks since returning from Europe have been smooth. I’m feeling fit and ready to race,” Talansky said, looking to improve upon his fourth place finish from last year.

Taylor Phinney in the 2017 Tour of Flanders

“The Amgen Tour of California is the biggest stage race in the USA and it just happens to be in my adopted home state. I would love to be able to pull off a great result in front of family and friends,” he continued.

Ian Boswell (Team Sky) has been handed the opportunity to lead his powerful squad in California. Unable to finish both the Tour of the Alps and the Tour de Romandie last month, he hopes to have better form for what’s likely his most important race of the season.

Ian Boswell

California native Peter Stetina, who led his Trek-Segafredo team last year, will miss the race while competing in the Giro d’Italia. Instead, his team will pin its hopes on U.S champion Greg Daniel who finished ninth in the youth classification and 52nd overall in last year’s edition.

Continental rider Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling) is a strong time triallist and climber, winning the race’s best climber’s jersey in 2016.

Last month, he won yellow at the challenging Tour of the Gila in New Mexico and is carrying great form into the biggest race of the year for his third tier professional squad.

Although his participation has yet to be confirmed, Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) finished third in California last year and has been flying high this season, finishing fourth overall at the Tour de Yorkshire and eleventh at the Tour of the Alps last month.

Brent Bookwalter (BMC) (Sunada)

He’s expected to lead a BMC squad that is having a fantastic 2017 season thus far.

The Tour of California route is varied this year, with two true uphill finishes, plenty of lumpy days in between as well as a difficult time trial at elevation.

Whoever comes away with the win at the Tour of California will have plenty to prove over the course of the week to secure the title as the race rolls into Pasadena next Saturday.