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Amgen Tour of California starts Sunday in Escondido

For the first time, the largest cycling stage race in the U.S. is traveling from south to north. The 750-mile trip will end May 19 in Santa Rosa.

May 11, 2013|By Diane Pucin, Los Angeles Times
  • Matt Bettenhausen, VP and Chief Security officer for AEG, discusses security measures for the race during the kick off press conference.
Matt Bettenhausen, VP and Chief Security officer for AEG, discusses security… (Doug Pensinger / Getty Images )

ESCONDIDO — The eighth Amgen Tour of California begins at 11:15 a.m. Sunday in Escondido, and for the first time the largest cycling stage race in the United States is traveling from south to north. The 750-mile trip will end May 19 in Santa Rosa.

Matt Bettenhausen, vice president and chief security officer for race owner AEG Worldwide, joined cyclists and race officials at a Friday news conference, where he discussed increased security for this year's event in the wake of the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

Bettenhausen said security would be "enhanced throughout the race" and asked for patience and cooperation from fans along the course.

The race will have 128 riders from 16 teams. The field includes the second-ranked cyclist in the world, Peter Sagan — who won five of the eight stages of last year's race — seven world champions, 11 national champions and 11 Tour de France stage winners.

Defending champion Robert Gesink of the Netherlands, who rode for the now-defunct Rabobank team last year, is with Blanco Pro Cycling and riding in the Giro d'Italia for his new team this year. The Giro started last week and conflicts with the California race.

diane.pucin@latimes.com

Twitter: @mepucin

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