The 2013 Tour of California will be held May 12-19.
Stages of the Tour of CaliforniaMost stages are called road races, starting in one place and ending in another. If you're anywhere along the day's route, you'll be able to see the riders passing, but the most exciting spots are at each day's finish line.
Every year since we started covering the Tour of California, the route has changed. Details of the exact route for each stage will help you find out when the Tour may be passing near where you live, and where you can see it. the Tour of California website has maps of each day's route so you can find out exactly where they're going.
Keep in mind that the stages are not continuous. The race may end the day in one city and start from a different one the following morning. Each stage includes a Lifestyle Festival at the destination, which runs all afternoon. In 2013, the Tour of California starts in Escondido, then moves north through the desert (Palm Springs and Palmdale), over the mountains to Santa Barbara and Avila Beach. From there it takes a break in route, starting again in San Jose, then north through Livermore to end in Santa Rosa.
How the Tour of California WorksAt first glance, it's simple. The rider with the lowest total time for the Tour of California race wins. It's also much more complex.
Bicycle races like the Tour of California are a team sport with eight people per team. The team leader is the one everyone else tries to help win. Sprinters, climbers and Domestiques (the French word for servant) are the behind-the-scenes heroes who protect the leader from wind, fetch anything he/she needs and even give up parts of their own bicycles if needed.
Teammates help their leader by breaking wind resistance and letting him ride in their slipstream. They may ride in a long paceline in front of the leader if they're riding straight into the wind or in a staggered "echelon" line if there's a crosswind.
A host of support personnel are also involved, following the riders in a van to help them with whatever they need.
Tour of California JerseysWhile the Tour of California will have only one ultimate winner, bicycling tradition awards special jerseys and honors along the way.
Sprint: This award favors riders who are fast on flat ground. it's like a race within a race, to be the first to cross designated spots during each day's race. First three riders across get points, and the ones with most points each day (and who finish in the top 15 that day) get to wear the green Sprint Jersey.
King of the Mountain: Made for the best hill climbers, King of the Mountain lines are located at the top of long inclines. The first three riders to cross get points toward the orange-colored KOM jersey.
Leader: The rider who has the lowest elapsed time when the Tour of California begins each day wears the coveted yellow jersey. The person who wears it can change every day.
Other jerseys include Best Young Rider, given to riders under 23 who do the best at the end of each stage of the Tour of California and Most Courageous, given to the cyclist who best exemplifies the character of those engaged in the fight against cancer.