2012 Tour of California: Garmin-Barracuda's Tom Danielson Out To Improve Upon 3rd Place Finish In 2011

Tom Danielson of the USA and riding for Team Garmin-Cervelo races to eighth place in the Individual Time Trial during Stage Three of the Tour of Utah at the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The 2012 AMGEN Tour of California begins on Sunday. Can Garmin-Barracuda's Tom Danielson pick up the race victory?

May is an exciting time for cycling fans with the Giro d'Italia underway and the Tour of California starting on Sunday, May 13. Boulder's Garmin-Barracuda is looking to get off to a hot start similar to what part of the team is doing in Italy. Garmin has three riders occupying the top three spots and four of the top eight, led by Ramunas Navardauskas before the start of Stage 6.

Staying stateside, Garmin-Barracuda will be led by Tom Danielson, who finished in third place at the conclusion of the 2011 Tour of California. Danielson then used that as a launching pad to have a successful debut in the Tour de France, finishing ninth overall (best finish by an American in the race).

Chris Horner won the general classification in 2011 and will be back once again with Team RadioShack to defend his title. Last year, Levi Leipheimer, a three-time winner of this Tour, was on Team RadioShack, but he joined Omega Pharma-Quick Step this year. However, his status is still uncertain due to recovery from a broken bone in his leg.

Can Danielson take that next step and win the general classification, or will we have new names atop the leaderboard? We'll find out on Sunday. In the meantime, check out this map (PDF) to get an idea on the course these racers will face as well as the TV coverage.

For more on the Tour of California, stick with this stream, cycling blog Podium Cafe and the Tour of California's official site.

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