Tour of California 2013: The Big Preview

The Tour of California may not match the prestige of the Giro d’Italia that it is run parallel to, but the race has grown in stature since its creation in 2006, moving from February to a more prominent position in the calendar, establishing itself as the most important race in America, and attracting stars from across the Atlantic.

Big names attending this year include Phillippe Gilbert, for whom it will be his first Tour of California, and Peter Sagan, who rode astonishingly in last year’s edition to win four consecutive stages. With a lack of top sprinters lining up his haul could be of a similar number this year, though Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s on-form Gianni Meersman will likely be a threatening rival.

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Though the course bucks the trend established in the previous six editions by travelling from South to North, the parcours retains a familiar shape; a mixture of sprinter-friendly stages and uphill finishes shape the first five days, while a 31.5 kilometre time trial on Friday and mountain top finish at Mt Diablo on Saturday will decide the GC.

The Tour of California 2013: Contenders

Tejay van Garderen
America’s brightest new star Tejay van Garderen is aiming to win America’s biggest race, and in the process reassert his nation’s dominance followings wins for a Dutch rider (Robert Gesink) and an Australian (Michael Rogers) in two of the last three editions. Van Garderen confirmed his potential at last year’s Tour, where he won the young rider’s jersey and finished fifth despite riding primarily as Cadel Evans’ domestique, while he has demonstrated steady progress at the Tour of California with fifth in 2011 and fourth in 2012. The 24-year old has also shown strong form already this season by challenging for the overall in the French races Paris-Nice and Criterium International, and an overall win in California would mark his first major stage race win.

David Zabriske
Garmin’s principal concern this month is the defence of Ryder Hesjedal’s Giro title, however as their home race they will be seeking a strong ride in California. A-team riders Tom Danielson, Andrew Talansky, Dan Martin and of course Hesjedal are not riding, but in recent editions it is David Zabriskie who has performed best with four second places since the race’s birth in 2006. He will look to finally upgrade to first this time round.

Michael Rogers
On top form Michael Rogers is one of the few riders on the startlist capable of matching Van Garderen in the climbs and Zabriskie against the clock. However, form is something Rogers has struggled for since his move from Sky to Saxo-Tinkoff this season, as the Australian has failed to register a single result of any significance, and even failed to finish the Tirreno-Adriatico and Tour of the Basque County. It is a big ask, but if the 33-year old can rediscover the legs that helped him win in 2010, he will be one to watch.

Lieuwe Westra
Though this is the first year Liewe Westra has entered the Tour of California, it presents a parcours perfectly suited to the Dutchman, featuring as it does mountains that aren’t too strenuous, a substantial time-trial, and a time-span of just one week. In recent years Westra has established himself as a major contender in stage races, but is still seeking a win in 2013. Look out also for his teammate Thomas De Gendt, who is using this race as preparation for the Tour de France and therefore won’t be in top form, but frequently manages to pull off a stage win in stage races.

The Tour of California 2013: Stages
Stage one, Sunday May 12, Escondido, 165.1km
Stage two, Monday May 13, Murietta to Greater Palm Springs, 200km
Stage three, Tuesday May 14, Palmdale to Santa Clarita, 177.7km
Stage four, Wednesday May 15, Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara, 134.5km
Stage five, Thursday May 16, Santa Barbara to Avila Beach, 185km
Stage six, Friday May 17, San Jose, 31.5km ITT
Stage seven, Saturday May 18, Livermore to Mt. Diablo, 146.5km
Stage eight, Sunday May 19, San Francisco to Santa Rosa, 132km

The Tour of California 2013: Teams
5-Hour Energy
BMC Racing
Champion System
Jamis-Hagens Berman
Omega Pharma-QuickStep

The Tour of California 2013: TV Guide
British Eurosport will be showing live coverage and edited highlights of the 2013 Tour of California. Check the British Eurosport website for more details and confirmed transmission times.
Sunday May 12, 22:00-00:00, Tour of California stage one LIVE, British Eurosport
Monday May 13, 22:00-23:45, Tour of California stage two LIVE, British Eurosport
Tuesday May 14, 22:15-23:45, Tour of California stage three LIVE, British Eurosport
Wednesday May 15, 22:15-23:45, Tour of California stage four LIVE, British Eurosport
Thursday May 16, 22:15-00:00, Tour of California stage five LIVE, British Eurosport
Friday May 17, 22:15-00:00, Tour of California stage six LIVE, British Eurosport
Saturday May 18, 22:15-00:00, Tour of California stage seven LIVE, British Eurosport
Sunday May 19, 18:30-20:00, Tour of California stage eight LIVE, British Eurosport 2

The Tour of California: Recent Winners
2012: Robert Gesink (Ned)
2011: Chris Horner (USA)
2010: Michael Rogers (Aus)
2009: Levi Leipheimer (USA)
2008: Levi Leipheimer (USA)
2007: Levi Leipheimer (USA)
2006: Floyd Landis (USA)

The Tour of California: Last year’s top ten (2012)
1. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank in 30-42-32
2. David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Barracuda at 46 secs
3. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Barracuda at 54 secs
4. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at 1-17
5. Fabio Duarte (Col) Colombia-Coldeportes at 1-36
6. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-Quick Step at 2-13
7. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank at 2-30
8. Chris Horner (USA) Radioshack-Nissan at 2-49
9. Tiago Machado (Por) Radioshack-Nissan at 2-54
10. Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank at 3-05