After eight days leading the peloton of 144 elite, international cyclists that included Olympic medalists and world champions, Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team's Levi Leipheimer (USA) was crowned as champion of the 2007 Amgen Tour of California today with a total time of 24 hours, 57 minutes and 24 seconds. A resident of Santa Rosa, Calif., Leipheimer is the second consecutive Californian to win the title.
"It's one of my most satisfying victories because our team really had to fight hard. I don't know if any other team could have done it besides the Discovery Channel team," said Leipheimer.
The race continued to attract record crowds, besting its own record of 1.3 million fans last year, and shoring its place as the most attended cycling race in the U.S.
"In only its second year, the Amgen Tour of California continues to grow as the largest cycling event in America, and we've been proud to host the best field of cyclists ever to race on U.S. soil," said Shawn Hunter, president of AEG Sports, presenters of the race. "We love this sport, and we are committed to making it bigger and better every year to come. We want this race to be as important on U.S. soil as the Tour de France is in that country one day."
Patrick Dempsey (Grey's Anatomy) was one of the cycling fans on hand today, in support of Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer™ complementary initiative.
"The 2007 Amgen Tour of California has been a thrilling race that saw the world's best cyclists battle it out on some of the most punishing and spectacular terrain that California has to offer," said George Morrow, Amgen executive vice president, global commercial operations.
The seventh and final stage of the Amgen Tour of California was held in Long Beach, Calif., with enthusiastic crowds lining the ten laps of a 7.75-mile (12.5 km) circuit.
Leipheimer maintained a 21-second lead over Team CSC's Jens Voigt (GER) in the general classification to put Voigt second overall, with Discovery Channel Pro's Jason McCartney (USA) placing third overall. Team CSC riders took the next three spots, securing a win for Team CSC in the team classification.
"It's been an interesting race, and first of all I want to say the courses are very good. There is great potential in this race. I think it has a big future," said Bjarne Riis, Team CSC's Directeur Sportif.
Agoura Hills, Calif.-based Ivan Dominguez (CUB) of the Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team won the stage in an electrically charged sprint to the finish. He outpaced Rabobank's Graeme Brown (AUS) and T-Mobile's Gerald Ciolek (GER), who took second and third in the stage.
The attacks in today's stage began within the first minute of racing, and before halfway through the first lap, a breakaway group of seven riders had formed, including Team Slipstream powered by Chipotle's Danny Pate (USA), who was voted by journalists as the Adobe Most Aggressive Rider.
For the first four laps, the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team chased alone, but were eventually joined by Team BMC, then Rabobank and Team CSC. The gap slowly closed, absorbing the breakaway riders by the final lap, when sprinters were moved up to the front of the peloton by their teams for the final sprint to the line.
Team CSC's Juan Jose "J.J." Haedo (ARG) appeared to be boxed in approaching the line and finished tenth in the stage, but claimed the Herbalife Sprints classification jersey. Other jerseys awarded today included the Union Bank Best Young Rider Jersey to Rabobank's Robert Gesink (NED) and the California Travel and Tourism King of the Mountains Jersey to Credit Agricole's Christophe Laurent (FRA).
For full results, archived footage, team information and more, please visit the official race Web site at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
Race title sponsor Amgen created the Breakaway from CancerTM initiative in 2005 as a complementary component to its title sponsorship to the Amgen Tour of California. The initiative raises awareness and funds for vital non profit services and programs supporting people affected by cancer.
"Amgen is proud to sponsor this hugely successful race, which is helping advance the popularity of cycling in America," Morrow added. "As a company dedicated to tapping the power of pioneering science to fight serious illness, we are equally proud of our Breakaway from Cancer™ initiative."
At the conclusion of today's race, in celebration of the initiative, Breakaway from Cancer™ spokesperson and "Grey's Anatomy" television star Patrick Dempsey took the stage to recognize Amgen and the non profit organizations that are benefiting from the initiative this year: The National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship, the oldest survivor led advocacy organization in the nation, and The Wellness Community, an international organization dedicated to providing support, education and hope to people affected by cancer.
"I'm pleased and proud to be a part of the Breakaway from Cancer™ initiative as it raises awareness and funds for the extremely valuable resources and services offered by both The Wellness Community and The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship," said Dempsey.
"Through the Breakaway from Cancer™ initiative, Amgen, The Wellness Community and The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship have reached hundreds of thousands of people with hope and information about vital services for those affected by cancer," said Cynthia Schwalm, vice president and general manager, Amgen Oncology. "We plan to continue the Breakaway from CancerT initiatives throughout the year and will continue to raise awareness and support for organizations that provide support and resources for people affected by cancer."
For the latest information on the Breakaway from Cancer initiative and ways to support those living with the illness, visit www.breakawayfromcancer.com.