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Tour of California to take riders higher, farther than ever

Cycling: 13th Amgen Tour of California 2018 /  Stage 7

SACRAMENTO, CA - MAY 19: The peloton rides during stage seven of the 13th Amgen Tour of California, a 143km stage in Sacramento on May 19, 2018 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images for AEG)

Getty Images for AEG

LOS ANGELES -- The most prestigious road cycling race in the U.S. will take riders further than ever before after the Tour of California revealed the full route for this year’s edition on Thursday.

The seven-stage men’s race, which begins May 12 in Sacramento, will cover 773 miles and gain more than 68,000 feet in elevation. More than half the stages will cover at least 120 miles, and the sixth stage could produce the overall winner when riders reach the popular summit of Mt. Baldy.

The three-stage women’s race, which begins May 16, covers most of the same routes as the men’s stages. It also will be the toughest in history at nearly 180 miles with 20,800 feet in elevation gain.

The Tour of California has emerged as a crucial Tour de France proving ground over the past 14 years with many of the top European riders making the trek to the U.S. Team and rider selections are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.