Over 140 riders will saddle up and race in the AMGEN Tour of California starting Sunday.
Stage 1 of the race will begin in Nevada City and end in Sacramento. Stage 2 will commence in Davis – a special treat for Paul Mach, a fifth-year graduate student and member of the UC Davis cycling team who will compete in his first Tour of California.
“It’s the biggest bike race in America, so to be a part of that is cool,” Mach said. “There will be some of the best racers in the world.”
What’s even more amazing is Mach, who rides for Team Bissell of the United States, didn’t even begin to race competitively until he came to Davis.
“It’s really special,” Mach said of getting to race in Davis. “The cycling community in Davis is big. I know them. They will all be there at the start.”
While the race will see the likes of Lance Armstrong and other big names, Mach doesn’t look to outride these world-class athletes. Instead, Mach sees his role as helping out his teammates.
“It’s a tough race and the competition is steep,” Mach said. “Winning probably isn’t going to happen.”
Still, Mach would like to compete, get into a few breakaways if he can and work toward possibly finishing higher up in future years.
“There will be riders that you read about when you first start riding and then you get to race against them,” he said. “The next step is to beat them.”
The race will feature bicyclists from 16 different teams and is expected to draw over two million spectators through its eight stages.
After leaving the second stage, riders will race to Santa Rosa. They will ride from San Francisco to Santa Cruz for Stage 3, San Jose to Modesto for Stage 4, Visalia to Bakersfield for Stage 5, Palmdale to Big Bear Lake for Stage 6 and an individual time trial in Los Angeles for Stage 7. They will then race through the Conejo Valley to finish off the week.
– Text by Max Rosenblum