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Amgen Tour Teams To Watch

Organizers predict the most exciting lineup in the tour's history.

The 2009 Amgen Tour of California
will assemble the best-ever collection of the world’s top cyclists when America’s
most important road race begins February 14, in Sacramento. 


Featuring a field that includes seven-time Tour de France
Champion Lance Armstrong and two-time defending Amgen Tour of California Champion
Levi Leipheimer (both racing for Astana), the 136 rider peloton also is
expected to include 2006 Giro d’Italia Champion Ivan Basso (leader of team
Liquigas); 2008 Olympic Champion in the time trial Fabian Cancellara (Saxo
Bank); 2006 Amgen Tour of California Champion Floyd Landis (Ouch presented by
Maxxis); 2005 World Champion Tom Boonen (Quick Step); three-time World Champion
Oscar Freire (Rabobank); two-time United States National Champion George
Hincapie (Team Columbia); and the top American performer in the 2008 Tour de
France Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream). 


Other anticipated participants include, 2008 Tour de France
Champion Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam); four-time Norwegian National
Champion Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam); 2008 U.S. Professional Champion and
Olympic Gold Medal Winner Tyler Hamilton (Rock Racing); Mark Cavendish (Team
Columbia), widely considered to be the world’s best sprinter; 2008 Best Young
Rider in the Amgen Tour of California Robert Gesink (Rabobank); and 2008 Tour
de France Best Young Rider Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank).


“It is clear that this year’s Amgen Tour of California
has the greatest field ever assembled in our country.  We have legendary
champions like Lance Armstrong, an extraordinary array of the best professional
cyclists riding today and many of the most talented young riders in the world,”
said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports.

The 750-mile, nine-day stage race, modeled after the Tour de
France and presented by AEG, will take 17 of the world’s top professional
cycling teams from Sacramento to San
Diego County from
February 14-22. 


"I will be competing in the Amgen Tour of California,"
confirmed Lance Armstrong.  "The level of competition, the challenge
of the course and the highly professional atmosphere makes it the ideal
situation for me to continue my training. I have also chosen the Amgen Tour of California
because of the race's record of supporting Cancer awareness and research thru
their Amgen Breakaway from Cancer initiatives and their commitment to partner
with our Lance Armstrong Foundation.  I look forward to racing once again
in the United States
in what we consider the best race outside of Europe.


The unprecedented field of riders expected to compete in the
fourth-annual event, which drew a record 1.6 million spectators in 2008,
includes two Tour de France Champions (Armstrong, Sastre), a Giro d’Italia
Champion (Basso), 10 World Champions (Armstrong, Boonen, Cancellara, Michael
Rogers, Cavendish, Brett Lancaster, Stuart O’Grady, Francisco Chicchi-Jr,
Yoroslav Popovych-Jr. and Janez Brajokovic-Jr.), 26 Olympians and eight Olympic
medalists (Armstrong, Cancellara, Hamilton, Leipheimer, Gustav Larsson,
O’Grady, Rogers and Hayden Roulston) and 25 past and current National


Renowned riders from the previously announced 17
professional cycling teams competing in the race include the following:


·         Lance
Armstrong (Austin, TX)
– Astana

Making a comeback after a three-year retirement, the
legendary Armstrong has won the Tour de France a record seven times. 
Racing for Astana under his former team’s general manager Johan Bruyneel, Armstrong
enters his first Amgen Tour of California
fresh from retirement.  His resume includes wins at the San Sebastian
Classic (1995), Tour of Switzerland (2001), Duaphine Libere (2002, 2003), Tour
DuPont (1995, 1996) and a bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, as
well as a World Championship (1993) and a U.S. Professional Championship
(1993).  During his reign atop the world’s biggest big race, Armstrong
amassed an amazing 22 stage wins.  His LIVESTRONG brand is now a global
symbol of hope.


·         Ivan Basso
(Italy) –

In 2006, Ivan Basso won his country’s biggest race, the Giro
d’Italia.  The same year he also won the prestigious Criterium
Internationale race.  In total, he has won five stages of the Giro
d’Italia and a stage of the Tour de France.  He enters his second Amgen
Tour of California as his team’s
leader for the first time.


·         Tom Boonen
(Belgium) –
Quick Step

One of the greatest sprinters in the world, Boonen enters
the Amgen Tour of California with
his eyes on winning a stage.  The 2005 World Champion, Boonen is a great
one-day rider who could win any bunch sprint.  Boonen’s recent resume
includes an impressive six stage wins at the 2007 Tour de France, as well as
the sprint points jersey; two stages at the Vuelta a España; two wins of the
Ronde van Vlaanderen; and two dramatic wins at the world’s toughest one-day
race, the Paris-Roubaix (2005, 2008). 


·         Fabian
Cancellara (Switzerland)
– Saxo Bank

Perhaps the world’s best time trialist, Cancellara won last
year’s opening Prologue at the Amgen Tour of California
and went on to win an Olympic gold medal in the individual time trial and an
unprecedented bronze medal on the road at the 2008 Beijing Games.  A
three-time stage winner and yellow jersey bearer in the Tour de France,
Cancellara also has won two World Championships in the time trial
competition.  A six-time time trial national champion of Switzerland,
he has won the two “monuments,” Paris-Roubaix and Milan-San Remo, as well as
the Italian stage race, Tirreno-Adriatico.  He has posted more than 20
time trial wins in his professional career and is a favorite to win the opening
Prologue in this year’s Amgen Tour of California.


·         Mark
Cavendish (Britain)
– Team Columbia

2008 was a remarkable year for Cavendish, as he amassed 14
victories at major stage races.  He won two stages at the Three Days of De
Panne; two in the Giro d’Italia; four in the Tour de France;

three in the Tour of Ireland; and three stage wins and the
sprint points classification at the Tour of Missouri.  He started cycling
as a BMX racer, building his speed at a young age.  He transferred that
energy over to velodrome racing and won two World Championships in the Men’s
Madison Title.  Cavendish is widely considered to be the best sprinter in
the world today.


·         Oscar
Freire (Spain)
– Rabobank

When it comes to performing well in big races, Freire has
done it as well as anyone in professional cycling.  A three-time World
Champion, Freire also has won four stages at the Tour de France and seven
stages at the Vuelta a España.  He’s also won three prestigious European
races, including the Tirreno-Adriatico, Ghent-Wevelgem and is a two-time winner
of Milan-San Remo.  Last season, he fulfilled a career goal of winning the
sprint points jersey at the Tour de France.  


·         Tyler
Hamilton (Boulder, CO)
– Rock Racing

Hamilton is most
known for his courageous Tour de France breakaway win at the 2003 race while
riding with a broken collarbone.  Hamilton
recently won the U.S. Professional Championships in August and, earlier in the
year, won the Tour of Quinghai Lake in China. 
He has won an Olympic gold medal in the time trial at the 2004 Athens Games;
two overall wins at the Tour of Romandie; overall win at the European classic
Liege-Bastogne-Liege; and stage wins at both the Tour de France and Giro


·         George
Hincapie (Greenville, SC)
– Team Columbia

American cycling icon Hincapie turned professional at age
20, and since then has been the member of a record eight winning Tour de France
teams, during which he served as the main lieutenant for Lance Armstrong’s
historic seven wins.  He has claimed his own victories throughout his
15-year career as well including, winning two stages at the 2005 Tour de France
and the 2006 U.S. Professional Championships; a stage of France’s
Dauphine-Libre; as well as winning the 2007 Tour of Missouri.  Hincapie
also is a two-time U.S. National Champion (road race) and a five-time
Olympian.  In the Amgen Tour of California,
Hincapie has claimed three stage wins, including two in the inaugural race in
2006, in which he placed fourth overall, and a thrilling win on a rain-soaked
final day in Pasadena last


·         Thor
Hushovd (Norway)
– Cervélo TestTeam

Hushovd remains one of the best sprinters, as well as
prologue specialists, in the world.  He is a threat to win the opening
Prologue at the 2009 Amgen Tour of California. 
A six-time stage winner and sprint points jersey winner of the Tour de France,
the Norwegian remains a threat to win any sprint.  A well-rounded rider,
Hushovd also is a four-time Norwegian National Champion and winner of stages in
both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España.  In 2006, he won the
prestigious Belgian Classic Fleche Wallone.


·         Kim
Kirchen (Luxembourg)
– Team Columbia

Kirchen had a breakthrough year in 2008, winning the Pais
Vasco race in Spain
and winning a stage at the Tour of Switzerland and the Belgian Classic Fleche
Wallone.  To cap off his year, Kirchen led the Tour de France for four
days and found himself in the green points jersey for several others.  He
has finished seventh and eighth in the Tour de France in 2007 and 2008,
respectively.  He also is a three-time National Champion of Luxembourg.


·         Floyd
Landis (Temecula) – Ouch presented by Maxxis

The 2009 Amgen Tour of California
will be Landis’ first competition in two and a half years.  A one-time
domestique of Lance Armstrong, Landis began his ascent to team leader in 2005,
capping things off the following year by winning both the 2006 Amgen Tour of
California and the Tour de Georgia.  In 2009, Landis has re-emerged with a
new American team and is set to race again at this year’s Amgen Tour of California. 
A former mountain biker, Landis suffered from a degenerative hip condition
which forced him to receive an artificial hip replacement at the end of 2006.


·         Levi
Leipheimer (Santa Rosa) – Astana

Leipheimer enters the Amgen Tour of California as the
two-time defending champion.  Leipheimer is a four-time, top-10 finisher
at the Tour de France and won a stage of the race in 2007.  That same
year, he won the U.S. Professional Championships, while also winning two stages
at the Tour de Georgia and one at the Tour of Missouri.  In 2008, he won a
bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics.  His dominance is noted in his home
state, as he has won four stages of the Amgen Tour of California while
garnering top honors twice, as well as the KOM jersey in the inaugural


·         Michael
Rogers (Australia) – Team Columbia

Hailed as one of the world’s most talented riders, Rogers
finished in the top-10 in both the time trial and road race competitions at the
2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.  The three-time World Champion in the
individual time trial followed that up with finishing second overall at the
Tour of Missouri.  After suffering through mononucleosis and a strain of
Epstein-Barr syndrome, the tough Aussie seems to be back in top form, recently
winning the time trail in the Australian National Championships this month.


·         Andy
Schleck (Luxembourg) – Saxo Bank

Hailed as the next great stage racer, Schleck has been
racing professionally for the past three seasons. The younger brother of Frank
Schleck, he finished first in the Best Young Rider competition in the 2008 Tour
de France and the 2007 Giro d’Italia, where he also placed second
overall.  This past August, he finished fifth overall in the 2008 Olympic
Road Race in Beijing. 


·         Christian
Vande Velde (Lemont, IL) – Garmin-Slipstream

Vande Velde has developed into one of the best all-around
riders in the world in the past two years.  After years of being a
domestique for top teams, Vande Velde placed third overall at the 2008 Amgen
Tour of California, led the Giro d’Italia for a day, placed fourth overall at
the Tour de France and was the overall champion at the Tour of Missouri this
past season.  He also placed 17th overall at the 2008 Olympics in
Beijing.  His breakthrough as a team leader came when he won the Tour of
Luxembourg in 2006, followed by placing second overall at the 2007 Tour de


·         Jens Voigt
(Germany) – Saxo Bank

A long-time force in the peloton, Germany’s Voigt is one of
the most admired cyclists in the professional peloton.  Over the years, he
has won two stages of the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia.  A threat
to win any road stage, Voigt has an impressive background, including wins in
his country’s national tour (2006, 2007), the Tour of Poland (2008), the Tour
of the Mediterranean and the Criterium Internationale, which he has won four
times overall.  In the 2007 Amgen Tour of California, he battled Levi
Leipheimer throughout the eight-day race, eventually finishing second overall.


·         David
Zabriskie (Salt Lake, UT) – Garmin-Slipstream

As the only American to win a stage of all three Grand Tours
(Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, and Vuelta a España), Zabriskie is one of the
most talented time trialists in the world.  He is a four-time U.S.
National Champion in the time trial and has won two medals at the World
Championships. After spending several seasons with the former top-ranked CSC
team, Zabriskie is now with American team Garmin-Slipstream and has used that
as a springboard for success.  One of the most colorful personalities in
the peloton, Zabriskie is a threat to win the Prologue or Individual Time Trial
at the 2009 Amgen Tour of California.


*Complete team rosters to follow in the days leading up to
the race


For more information about the 2009 Amgen Tour of California,
please visit


About the Amgen Tour of California

The largest cycling event in America, the Amgen Tour of
California is a Tour de France-style cycling road race, presented by AEG, that
challenges the world’s top professional cycling teams to compete along a
demanding course.  Building on last year's third-annual stage race, which
attracted 1.6 million spectators, the 2009 Amgen Tour of California will be
expanded to cover more than 750 miles over nine days from February 14-22, 2009. 


Amgen Tour Teams To Watch

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