Remembering the Tour of California Through the Years


Though the Amgen Tour of California always remained a bit of a puzzle, it succeeded at energizing the sport in America.

After the race moved its start date from the post-winter months to the pre-summer months, the warm weather, shopping opportunities and generous start money made the event even more popular with many of the world’s best riders looking for a pre-Tour de France tune-up.
Of all the California tourist sites that the Amgen Tour of California visited, none were as world famous as when the riders raced down Hollywood Boulevard past the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
In the 14 years of the race there were many crashes, but none were as frightening as Toms Skujins’ high-speed get-off while leading the field down Mt. Diablo in 2017. The Latvian rider would celebrate the anniversary of the crash the following year by taking a commanding stage win at Laguna Seca.
Although their laps weren’t as fast as the Indy cars which competed on the same course for the Long Beach Grand Prix, the ATOC riders maintained impressive speeds nonetheless.
From guardian angels and over-stuffed sumo wrestlers to giant pickles and religious figures, over the years American fans gave it their best shot at recreating the roadside antics made famous in the European Grand Tours.
California’s fans like the Pope of Grimes Canyon give their Euro counterparts a run for their money.
Levi Leipheimer animated many of the early editions of the Tour up until his final appearance in 2012. His three consecutive overall victories (2007–’09) were the most of any rider. Of all the locations that held the time trials, none were as celebrated as the bucolic town of Solvang.
The Rose Bowl in Pasadena played host to numerous sprint finishes, with the most memorable being Peter Sagan’s dramatic final stage victory that earned him the overall win in 2017. Sagan’s reign of stage wins was the most with 17, then followed by Mark Cavendish with 10.

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