A pack of 121 world-class professional bicycle racers (a peloton in bike-speak) zoomed down San Francisquito Canyon Road into Santa Clarita early Tuesday afternoon, on the first of the 2013 Amgen Tour of California’s three-leg race up and down some of the Santa Clarita Valley’s deepest canyons.
A few hours later, Peter Sagan of Slovakia, a sprinter and the world’s No. 2-ranked cyclist, came from behind to cross the finish line first, with a time of 4:20:31 since the start in Palmdale. It was the Tour of California veteran’s ninth stage win, a record.
Nanoseconds after Sagan, Michael Matthews of Australia and sprinter Tyler Farrar of the United States finished second and third, respectively. All but six starters finished the race.
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Route from Palmdale through Santa Clarita
The eight day, eight-stage Amgen Tour of California race stretches south to north this year for the first time, from Escondido in San Diego County to Santa Rosa north of San Francisco. Following Sunday’s Stage 1 in looping around Escondido and Monday’s Stage 2 from Murietta to Palm Springs, Tuesday’s 177.7-kilometer Stage 3 started at Marie Kerr Park in Palmdale around noon.
After the initial Elizabeth Lake Road /San Francisquito Canyon Road /Copper Hill–Rye Canyon Road leg, which took the racers just a bit longer than an hour to ride, the Stage 3 course took them through the Pitchess Detention Center and up Lake Hughes Road back to Elizabeth Lake Road.
From there, the course looped back into Santa Clarita via Bouquet Canyon to the finish line on Magic Mountain Parkway in front of the Westfield Valencia Town Center Mall.
Santa Clarita Tour of California Fans Make Some Noise
An estimated 2,000 spectators lined up on the grass along the north side of Magic Mountain Parkway to watch the action cheered and rattled mini-cowbells as the racers sped by. Legs were furiously pumping as the cyclists poured it on in the final sprint to the finish.
At the finish line, racers commented the weather was cooler Tuesday than yesterday’s triple-digit heat for Stage 2 from Murietta to Palm Springs. Prevailing westerly winds were stronger through the Santa Clarita Valley Tuesday, moderating temperatures that peaked in the mid-80s, but also creating headwinds for the racers at times.
Amgen Tour of California 2013: Standings, Stage 4 Preview
The overall Tour of California standings as of Wednesday morning remain tight: Janier Acevedo (Columbia) is the overall race leader, with a time of 13:59:50. TeJay Van Garderen (USA) is just 12 seconds behind in second place and Ireland’s Philip Deignan holds third by 27 seconds.
Stage 4 begins at 12:35 p.m. Wednesday on Town Center Drive at the mall, and the racers head west on Highway 126 through Fillmore, Santa Paula and Ojai before hitting Pacific Coast Highway near Carpinteria and ending in Santa Barbara.
Tuesday and Wednesday’s Stage 3 and Stage 4 events marked the fifth time Santa Clarita was a host city in the Amgen Tour of California’s eight-year history. AEG produces the annual event.
The Amgen Tour of California is now the largest pro cycle race in the U.S. and a qualifier for the world’s No. 1 cycle race, the Tour de France, in June. The final stage of the 2013 Tour of California begins in San Francisco Sunday morning and heads north to the finish in Santa Rosa.
Follow the race with the Amgen TourTracker here.
For more photos, click here.
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Source: Santa Clarita News