Some of the world's top professional cycling teams have entered the eighth Amgen Tour of California, race organizers announced Thursday.

BMC Racing of Santa Rosa is planning to bring current world road champion Philippe Gilbert of Belgium. BMC also features top American Tejay van Garderen, who finished fifth at the 2013 Tour de France.

America's other big team, Garmin-Sharp of Denver, plans to defend its three-time overall title. The team will feature Tyler Farrar who has won stages at all three Grand Tours.

The race is scheduled to begin in Escondido on May 12 and end eight days later in Santa Rosa. Two of the biggest stages will be an individual time trial in San Jose on May 17 and a mountaintop finish on Mount Diablo on May 18.

Organizers also announced Thursday they will hold a women's time trial in San Jose before the men's Stage 6. The invitation-only women's race will use the same course as the men and offer a $10,000 prize.

Belgium's top team Omega Pharma - Quick-Step plans to bring Tom Boonen, one of the world's best sprinters. Italy's top team Cannondale Pro Cycling is bringing rising star Peter Sagan of Slovakia, who won five stages in California last year.

"I had an amazing experience last year and from the looks of the route this year, there are some incredible stages and sprints I can't wait to take on," Sagan said in a statement.

Other top World Tour teams selected include Radioshack Leopard Trek of Luxembourg, Orica-GreenEdge of Australia, Team Saxo-Tinkoff of Denmark and Vacansoleil-DCM of the Netherlands.

"The Amgen is a big objective of mine because it's not very often that we get to race in front of a home crowd," van Garderen said in a statement. "So I'm really going to relish that."

America's best domestic teams will test their cyclists against some of the world's elite racers. UnitedHealthcare Pro of Oakland, the top U.S.-based Pro Continental team, has entered. So has Germany's Team NetApp - Endura and China's top squad Champion System Pro.

Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.