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Tour of California 2012: Route, Start Time, Weather And More

The LIVESTRONG team will look to get off to a quick start at the 2012 Tour of California on Sunday, as Stage 1 kicks off in Santa Rose, California.

Cyclists will begin the grueling 115.9 mile stage at 10:50 a.m. locally in California, 12:50 p.m. in Houston. While the mileage sounds quite imposing for those who aren't avid cycling fans, or professional cyclists, the ride does sound quite pleasant. Here's how the Tour of California's official website describes the route for Stage 1:

The first day of racing of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California will start and finish in Santa Rosa, California, the city that helped establish the race as the premier professional cycling event in the U.S. and home to three-time race champion Levi Leipheimer. Expect to see spectators perched in the trees, rooftops and in windows near the finish line as they vie for the very best view of the final sprint. The stage will start with two neutral laps around the city before heading out to the open roads of beautiful Sonoma County. Within 30 minutes, the race will reach the Town of Windsor and the first of several of the stage's featured Sprints. The peloton will then head south, passing by several of Sonoma County's world-famous vineyards. In Graton, the racers will turn east and head back into Santa Rosa for another Sprint, followed by a straight shot towards the coast and into the quaint town of Occidental. From here, the stage heads north on Bohemian Highway and follow a portion of Levi Leipheimer's "King Ridge GranFondo" route.

In Cazadero, the racers will start to feel the cool Pacific Ocean breezes as they begin a climb up to the top of Fort Ross Road. They say "what goes up must come down" - and in this case, Meyers Grade Road presents amazing views of a spectacular coast line, but it's the white-knuckle descent down to Highway 1 that will quickly grab the rider's attention. A left onto Highway 1 will take the racers south 12 miles to the quintessential northern California climb of Coleman Valley Road, which is long, twisty and steep. The technical descent back into Occidental will test the skills of every member of the peloton as they compete over the last 16 miles on redwood lined country roads to the finish in Santa Rosa. For the first time, the riders will race right to the finish line in Santa Rosa without any finishing circuits, ensuring a climactic, crowd-pleasing end to Stage 1 of the 2012 race.

For those interested in a map of Stage 1 -- don't worry, we've got you covered with a .pdf of the route.

The cyclists in the race will be quite pleased with the weather forecast as well. Per AccuWeather, it looks like it'll be a beautiful day on Sunday in Santa Rosa, with temperatures in the mid 70s with sunshine.

For more o the 2012 Tour of California and all things cycling, be sure to check out Podium Cafe and join the discussion.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.