Pro bikers blitz through Bay Area

Hey jumbo. Yeah you. Try riding your bike two city blocks at flat-out top speed. Now try four. Then eight.

Still breathing? Congratulations. You’ve just ridden about a mile. Multiply that by about 100, then add in all the hills and elevation changes between San Francisco and Santa Cruz.

What does that get you? A standard day at work for the 100-plus riders in the Amgen Tour of California, wending their way south in Monday’s 117-mile stage from The City down to Aptos.

Northern California welcomed the annual bike race back for its seventh running. This year, the Bay Area stage started at the Marina Green, then rolled down Highway 1 through Pacifica and Daly City.

The peloton rode down Devil’s Slide and through Half Moon Bay before heading to Santa Cruz. The tour returned to Surf City this year after the city passed on the tour in 2011 for budgetary reasons.

Bike racing fans Ally and Phil Wenzel made time on Monday to watch the racers at Cabrillo College. Ally told the Monterey Herald why they came out:

“We don’t race, but we tour a lot in Europe. It’s a good way to see the world on a bicycle. When we get away, we ride. That’s what we do.”

Slovakian Peter Sagan, riding for the Liquigas-Cannondale team, held tight to his lead by edging Australia’s Heinrich Haussier and American Jeffry Louder.

The riders’ reward for a grueling ride on Monday? A bright and early start Tuesday as the tour takes off for Livermore before culminating in Southern California this weekend.