Route specifics disclosed for 2012 Amgen Tour of California

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Amgen Tour of California fans can now begin staking claim to their favorite roadside vantage points for this year's bike race.

Organizers on Wednesday published the detailed stage maps and course profiles for the eight stages of this year's race, rolling out of Santa Rosa on May 13 and ending in Los Angeles on May 20.

The details are full of surprises, such as a visit to towering Mt. Diablo in Danville on the Stage 3 route between San Jose and Livermore. Organizers said fans have been suggesting the climb for the past 6 years.

In fact, Stage 3 could serve to re-sort the standings with climbs over Calaveras Road and Patterson Pass in the mix.

The biggest difficulties for the peloton start Friday on Stage 6 from Palmdale to Big Bear Lake. The 115-mile grind takes in two 7,000-foot summits at Angeles Crest and Big Bear Lake.

That's followed by Saturday's Queen Stage (Stage 7, shown at top), a 78-mile struggle that includes three King of the Mountain summits — Glendora Ridge Road, Glendora Mountain Road, and Mt. Baldy. That final climb comprises 15 switchbacks in the last handful of miles.

The race ends Sunday in a bike race that starts in Beverly Hills and includes 5-mile circuits through Chinatown, past the Los Angeles City Hall, and the Staples Center to the finish line.

Below are the stages and host cities for this year's Amgen Tour of California. Follow the stage link to find videos about each stage and host cities; the maps and course profiles are linked from the bottom of those stage information pages.

Stage 1: Sunday, May 13 — Santa Rosa
Stage 2: Monday, May 14 — San Francisco to Santa Cruz County
Stage 3: Tuesday, May 15 — San Jose to Livermore
Stage 4: Wednesday, May 16 — Sonora to Clovis
Stage 5: Thursday, May 17 — Bakersfield (ITT)
Stage 6: Friday, May 18 — Palmdale to Big Bear Lake
Stage 7: Saturday, May 19 — Ontario to Mt. Baldy
Stage 8: Sunday, May 20 — Los Angeles

Oregon's Chris Horner of RadioShack-Nissan-Trek is expected to return to defend his 2011 title. Three-time winner, Levi Leipheimer, below, will be on hand as a new member of Omega Phama QuickStep to attempt his fourth championship.

The Tour announced the 13 hosts cities back in November.

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