• Kristoff (L) and Sagan (R) will no doubt on a show at this year's Amgen Tour of California ATOC (Getty)Source: Getty
Who's coming out to play at the men's 2017 Amgen Tour of California (ATOC)? Catch it LIVE on SBS with TV and online streaming kicking off at 5:30am AEST, Monday 15 May.
By
Cycling Central

Source:
Amgen Tour of California
13 May 2017 - 11:26 AM  UPDATED 13 May 2017 - 11:40 AM

The parcours

Starting Monday morning AEST in Sacramento with a stage for the sprinters, the parcours of this year's ATOC is varied.

The climbers will strut their stuff on the mountainous terrain and uphill finishes of stage 2 and the queen stage (stage 5) while the time trial specialists will quench their thirst in the race against the clock on stage 6 in Bear Lake. 

Stage 3 is definitely another stage for the sprinters while stage 4 and the final stage in Pasadena could be classified as mid-mountains. But with the climbs on these stages finishing with more than 20 kilometres left to the finish, sprinters' teams could still look to these stages to bring it back together for their fast men.

Who's who

Of last year's podium, just Brent Bookwalter returns. 2016's champion Julian Alaphillipe (Quickstep-Floors) is out with a knee injury and runner-up Rohan Dennis (BMC) chose the Giro d'Italia. 

But BMC Sports Director Jackson Stewart says Samuel Sanchez who'll lead the team for general classification.

"We have a great leader in Samuel Sanchez, who is now fully recovered from his crash at Vuelta al Pais Vasco and I am confident in his abilities.”

Australia's Miles Scotson is a good chance for the individual time trial on stage 6, Stewart also confirmed.

Australia's best chance at the general classification is Lachlan Morton (Dimension Data) who earned his stripes on the USA domestic scene. He will target the Mount Baldy queen stage (stage 5) and possibly stage 2 for the win, while Dimension Data looks to Reinardt Janse van Rensburg for the flat to medium stages.

Dimension Data will also arm themselves with the sprint firepower of Bathurst boy Mark Renshaw and Bernie Eisel.

Victorian Brendan Canty lines up for Cannondale-Drapac where he'll look to support co-captains Andrew Talansky and Taylor Phinney, recently recovered from a concussion. Talansky is feeling good about his GC chances.

"I’m feeling fit and ready to race,” Talansky said. “The goal for me is to get the best GC placing possible. That said, with the team we have going, we have numerous riders who can win stages and maybe take the jersey in doing so early on. We won’t be sitting back and waiting. You will definitely see the team racing aggressively from the beginning of the week."

Other GC chances include the likes of David De La Cruz (Quick-Step Floors), Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Rafal Majka (Bora-hansgrohe), and Sky's US rider Ian Boswell.

Another rider to look out for who may not trouble the GC but might prove tough to shake on the climbs is local rider Evan Huffman riding for Rally Cycling and is the defending King of the Mountain. 

Then there's of course the big gun sprinters. Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) returns to defend the sprinter's title in what is a fruitful race for the dual world champion. Cycling's rock star has won a total of 15 ATOC stages, which is also a race record. John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) and Kristoff will look to spoil his party and we'll get to watch their fireworks.

And don't underestimate Travis McCabe (UHC Pro Cycling) who surprised no one when he took a stage at this year's Herald Sun-Tour and is also fresh off his Tour of the Gila points classification win in April.