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Tour of California 

 Imagine the route you’d take through California if you intended to show a stranger the best of the Golden State; maybe it would include tree cities, like Chico, Davis, and Auburn. Maybe, you’d throw in San Francisco, Monterey, and Pacific Coast Highway 1.

Then consider the official route of the next Amgen Tour of California, which begins again on Feb. 14 in Sacramento: San Jose, Clovis, Modesto, Visalia, Merced, and Pasadena.

While attention locally has focused on a switch from the tour stopping in SLO to Paso Robles getting the nod, the entire 2009 route is notable for its differences from past races.

This year the route seems to highlight California’s status as an agricultural giant, rather than a place of staggering natural beauty.

Stage 1 is a loop around Sacramento. Stage 2 is just a jump from there, beginning in Davis, and heading all the way to suburban Santa Rosa. From there the route hits the coast briefly, from Sausalito to Santa Cruz, before bounding over to San Jose. From Silicon Valley the ride goes to Modesto, then Merced to Clovis, Visalia to Paso Robles, and then another loop around the Danish village of Solvang. The final stages take riders from Santa Clarita to Pasadena and finally, on a little jaunt from San Bernardo north to Escondido.

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