Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins (Sky), 25-time Tour de France stage victor Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), 10 world champions, and several other high-profile riders will tackle the Amgen Tour of California starting May 11 in Sacramento.
Also headlining the field is Peter Sagan (Cannondale), who has won the points jersey the last four years and owns a record 10 stage wins at the race.
Organizers confirmed a wealth of talent on Monday that arguably makes the ninth annual California tour the most star-studded of the longest-tenured major stage race in the U.S.
“We are honored to welcome such a stellar field of cyclists, many of whom have traveled across the world to compete at the 2014 Amgen Tour of California,” Kristin Bachochin, executive director of the race and senior vice president of AEG Sports, said in a press release. “We look forward to an exciting race with one of the most accomplished fields of riders to date.”
Wiggins scored the first-ever Tour de France/Olympic gold medal double in 2012 and recently finished in the top 10 at Paris-Roubaix. The most prolific Olympic athlete in British history has targeted the overall at the Amgen Tour ahead of a return to the Tour de France.
American Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing), 23, will also compete in California. A former Giro d’Italia pink jersey wearer, Phinney will be targeting the mostly flat stage 2 time trial in Folsom.
Other top riders on hand for the Sunday kickoff include former world champions Thor Hushovd (BMC Racing) and Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), former Milano-Sanremo champion Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEdge), former California stage winner Jens Voigt (Trek Factory Racing), and reigning U.S. road champion Freddie Rodriguez (Jelly Belly-Maxxis).
Belkin, meanwhile, will race in the home state of its title sponsor with Laurens Ten Dam leading its GC charge. He will be assisted by the likes of Jack Bobridge and Lars Boom, while Moreno Hofland will target stage wins.
“I’m really glad to ride this race,” Ten Dam said in a Belkin release. “After the Tour de France, it’s my main goal. I finished sixth once [in 2011], so that gives me some confidence. As a team, we’d like to give the sponsor a present.”
Reigning Tour of California champion Tejay van Garderen (BMC) will not try to defend his title as he prepares for the Tour de France. With teammate Cadel Evans focusing on the Giro d’Italia starting Friday, van Garderen’s season goal is to win the Tour. In their absence, American Peter Stetina will take up the role of GC leader for BMC, the American team based in Santa Rosa, California.
The Tour of California begins May 11 in Sacramento and ends in Thousand Oaks on May 18.