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

The 2012 Tour of California is set to begin on Sunday, as Stage 1 of the eight stage race will get underway from Santa Rosa.

Stage 1 will start at 10:50 a.m. locally in California, 12:50 p.m. in the Dallas area, and will last until roughly 3:49 p.m. in California, 5:49 p.m. CT. The first stage is roughly 116 miles long, and the Tour of California's official website describes it quite nicely:

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.

Per AccuWeather, the forecast for Stage 1 looks quite beautiful -- 76° with sunshine.

For those interested in a map of the route, that can be found here in .pdf format.

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

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.