It's confirmed: Merced excluded from 2010 Tour of California

The 2010 edition of the nation's top cycling race will pass over the cities of Merced and Clovis and be replaced by a Visalia-to-Bakersfield run, Tour of California officials confirmed at a press conference Thursday morning

The nearest location for Merced bicycle fans hoping to catch a glimpse of stars like Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis will be Modesto, which will play host to the race for the third year in a row. Modesto was confirmed as the finish line of Stage 4, a route that will begin in San Jose on the morning of May 19.

The Visalia-to-Bakersfield run will take advantage of elevation changes in that portion of the Sierra Nevada.

The Tour will begin May 16 with a Nevada City-to-Sacramento stage and will conclude May 23 in southern California.

Gov. Schwarzenegger announced the statewide stages earlier today.

Here is the list of stages and cities involved:

• Stage 1: Sunday, May 16 - Nevada City to Sacramento

• Stage 2: Monday, May 17 - Davis to Santa Rosa

• Stage 3: Tuesday, May 18 - San Francisco to Santa Cruz

• Stage 4: Wednesday, May 19 - San Jose to Modesto

• Stage 5: Thursday, May 20 - Visalia to Bakersfield

• Stage 6: Friday, May 21 - Pasadena to Big Bear Lake

• Stage 7: Saturday, May 22 - Los Angeles (individual time trial)

• Stage 8: Sunday, May 23 - Thousand Oaks/Westlake Village/Agoura Hills

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