PALMDALE, Calif. -

The eighth edition of the Tour of California begins two days of racing in Los Angeles County today with a 110.3-mile stage from Palmdale to Santa Clarita.

The 121 cyclists will leave from Marie Kerr Park at 11:20 a.m. for a stage that will feature racing through the hills north of Santa Clarita along San Francisquito Canyon and a 22-mile climb up Lake Hughes Road, followed by a gradual 18-mile descent down Spunky Canyon and Bouquet Road.

The stage will end at Magic Mountain Parkway adjacent to the Westfield Valencia Town Center, where a Lifestyle Festival will be held from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. The estimated finish time is 3:48 p.m.

Southbound San Francisquito Canyon Road, west to Copper Hill Drive, and through the the industrial center to the Golden State (5) Freeway will be closed for approximately 20 minutes between 12:45-1:30 p.m. to accommodate the
cyclists.

There will be an approximately 40-minute closure of southbound Bouquet Canyon Road west to Valencia Boulevard and to Magic Mountain Parkway between 2:30-4 p.m.

Janier Alexis Acevedo of Colombia took the lead in the eight-stage race officially known as the Amgen Tour of California by winning Monday's 124.1-mile stage from Murrieta to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway by 12 seconds over Tejay van Garderen of Bozeman, Mont., who is second overall.

Monday's stage was held amid the hottest temperatures for a major U.S. cycling stage race, 114 degrees, according to organizers.    

"It's never been this hot in Ireland," third-place finisher Philip Denignan said.

Some cyclists were rehydrated with fluids following the finish, while others sat on the pavement and had ice packs and cold cloths put on their heads and backs.

The race began Sunday in San Diego County with a field of 127 including 2010 Tour de France champion Andy Schleck, 10 other riders who have won stages in the Tour de France, seven world champions and 11 current national champions.

This is the first time in its history the race is being run from south to north.

"Taking the Amgen Tour of California from south to north is something we always knew we wanted to do," said Kristin Bachochin, the race's executive director. "We think this will bring a whole new element to the competition for the elite cyclists who participate, not to mention some striking California scenery for our worldwide audience.

"California provides a variety of beautiful yet challenging terrains, helping us achieve our goal of creating a challenging route year after year while showcasing the very best this state has to offer."

An 84.7-mile stage from Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara will be held Wednesday. The race will conclude Sunday in Santa Rosa.