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Editors’ Picks: Amgen Tour of California podiums

Who will win the Amgen Tour of California? Our expert panel of editors picks favorites for the men's and women's races.

Here are our rapid-fire predictions for the top-three overall at the Amgen Tour of California men’s and women’s races. The VeloNews editorial staff will make predictions for major races throughout the season.

Spencer Powlison, news director
Men’s picks:
1. Rohan Dennis
2. Lachlan Morton
3. Pete Kennaugh
Women’s picks:
1. Megan Guarnier
2. Emma Johansson
3. Marianne Vos

Form is really an unknown quantity for Dennis, but I think he’ll be able to hang in there on Tuesday’s queen stage, as well as the deceptively difficult stage 4 to Laguna Seca. I bet Morton will win one of those climbing days, riding well after his Tour of the Gila win, but I don’t think he can keep up in the TT, where Dennis should win the race. Kennaugh has had a pretty good spring so far, so I think he’ll sneak onto the podium.

Guarnier and Boels – Dolmans are hard to bet against. The TTT adds a curious dynamic to the race, and I think the world’s best team will convincingly demonstrate its supremacy. Otherwise, the women’s race will be largely decided on time bonuses or small margins of victory. With that in mind, I like Johansson and Vos — plus, their teams are well-equipped for the Folsom team test.

Chris Case, managing editor
Men’s picks:
1. Lawson Craddock
2. Lachlan Morton
3. Rohan Dennis
Women’s picks:
1. Kristin Armstrong
2. Lauren Stephens
3. Jasmin Glaesser

With a ninth overall in Pais Vasco, Craddock has proven that he has what it takes to climb with the world’s best. This race is about two stages: Gibraltar Road and the TT. Guys like Rohan Dennis and Laurens Ten Dam haven’t shown they’re on quite the form that Craddock is.

Armstrong is on form; she proved that at the Gila. In a race likely to come down to the TTT, she has to be the favorite.

Andrew Hood, European correspondant
Men’s picks:
1. Lawson Craddock
2. Rohan Dennis
3. Pete Kennaugh
Women’s picks:
1. Megan Guarnier
2. Evelyn Stevens
3. Marianne Vos

On the men’s side, I am going with Lawson Craddock. The shorter TT and more climbing will help his GC chances, and after a strong and steady European spring, he’s clearly poised for a major breakthrough. With third in 2014, this will be his year to win it all to confirm his place as America’s next stage race race.

For the women, after her strong European campaign, Megan Guarnier is in pole position to win with her strong climbing legs. If she doesn’t, Boels – Dolmans teammate Evie Stevens will be right there.

Dan Cavallari, tech editor
Men’s picks:
1. Brent Bookwalter
2. Peter Sagan
3. Julian Alaphilippe
Women’s picks:
1. Marianne Vos
2. Evelyn Stevens
3. Kristin Armstrong

Bookwalter showcased excellent skill and strength at last year’s USA Pro Challenge, and if ATOC comes down to a time trial, Bookwalter’s got chops. He can climb, too. What can get in his way? His teammate, Rohan Dennis, who stood on the top step above Bookwalter at that same race. Sagan has a strong spring classics season under his belt and is primed to make the transition to stage races with ATOC as his warm-up. He won last year, but this year’s course might not be tailored to his strengths. Still, the Slovak always seems to be in the thick of things, and given the right opportunity, he could run away with this. Alaphilippe perhaps didn’t have the spring he had been hoping for, but he’s loaded with puncheur talent and a strong team to help him.

She doesn’t have the 2016 results, but Vos has the experience and a race resume a mile long to prove she can bring the pain in Cali. If the team time trial factors into the overall standings, Stevens has a strong chance to put herself on the podium. She’s fit, has an incredibly strong team, and has proven herself as a time trial winner in California before. Armstrong, like Stevens, gets on the podium if the TTT becomes a key determining factor in the overall standings. Experience is key here; her team isn’t as strong as the likes of Boels – Dolmans, but Armstrong knows how to throw down when it’s her against the clock.

Kristen Legan, associate editor
Men’s picks:
1. Rohan Dennis
2. Julian Alaphilippe
3. Peter Sagan
Women’s picks:
1. Megan Guarnier
2. Kristen Armstrong
3. Emma Johansson

Dennis has been absent most of the spring due to illness, but he’s had a nice training block here in Colorado before heading to ATOC. BMC will play a large role in controlling the field and the extra climbing this year will suit Dennis over Sagan. Alaphilippe had a great spring campaign and hopefully he’s still on form to tackle California. He’ll do well on the climbs but won’t be able to match Dennis’s TT prowess. Sagan is unquestionably the fan favorite in Calfiornia, and it’s only going to continue to grow now that he’s wearing the rainbow stripes. There’s just a little too much climbing this year for the top step of the podium, but I think the charismatic rider will still make it on the podium.

The TTT is going to play a pivotal role in how this race pans out. Boels – Dolmans has a team full of strong and experienced women who know how to race together in the TTT but can also control the race from the start. Armstrong is always a contender when it comes to racing in the U.S. and her team will back this fierce competitor with strong riders like Dragoo and Jackson. Johansson is due for a win and the stages at TOC suit her strengths if she arrives fresh and fit for the race. It’s hard to overlook Vos when she’s lining up as team leader, but the women’s field has more players and more firepower behind than ever before. And if Vos isn’t back to 100 percent, she won’t be able to match the others.

Dane Cash, web editor and reporter
Men’s picks:
1. Rohan Dennis
2. Lawson Craddock
3. Julian Alaphilippe
Women’s picks:
1. Trixi Worrack
2. Megan Guarnier
3. Mara Abbott

Rohan Dennis showed off his well-rounded skillset en route to a runner-up performance in California back in 2014. Bradley Wiggins — the winner that year — probably won’t be as much of a factor this time around, clearing the Dennis’s path to the overall title. Lawson Craddock was in the mix in 2014 as well and he’s looked good so far this year, making him a likely contender this year. Julian Alaphilippe has to be in the conversation too, though it’s hard to know what to expect from the punchy Frenchman, who still has something to prove as a stage racer.

A team time trial is bound to have a big impact in a four-stage race, so it’s hard to look past the squads that are strong against the clock. Worrack isn’t just the defending champion in California; she’s also the leader of a Canyon – SRAM team that will be very hard to beat in the TTT. Guarnier could make a strong challenge, supported by an always stellar Boels – Dolmans. Abbott, fresh off a Tour of the Gila victory, has the tools to compete as well.