RadioShack, GreenEDGE among 16 teams for Amgen Tour of California

Continental teams include Optum and Bontrager-Livestrong

Amgen Tour of California organizers today announced the 16 teams to take part in the race’s seventh edition. Among the teams to take the start in Santa Rosa on May 13 are defending champion Chris Horner’s RadioShack-Nissan, first-year Aussie squad GreenEdge and Tour de France champion Cadel Evans’ BMC Racing.

“The Amgen Tour of California has always been a first-class event, with great courses, amazing organization, and incredible fans,” said Horner. “This year’s event looks to be the best ever, with an even more challenging route and a roster of 16 of the best teams in the world. I’m looking forward to coming back to defend my title — it promises to be a fantastic eight days in California!”

The eight-day race opens with a circuit stage in Sonoma County and closes with a short ride from Beverly Hills to L.A. Live, in the heart of Los Angeles. The 750-mile route will feature more accumulated climbing than any previous Tour of California, and back-to-back mountain stages in Big Bear Lake and Mount Baldy will likely create more separation at the head of the race than in 2011, when Horner edged former teammate Levi Leipheimer by 38 seconds.

Leipheimer, a three-time race winner, should be in his adopted hometown of Santa Rosa for the start of the race with him Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad. Also among the teams taking the start will be Garmin-Barracuda, winner of the race’s team classification in 2010.

“The Amgen Tour of California is always a big goal for our team,” said team boss Jonathan Vaughters “[The race] is one of the premier races in the U.S. and one we take a lot of pride in. Every year, the competition is intense, the crowds get even bigger, and this year will be no exception. We’re very excited to get back to California and we hope to give fans plenty of reasons to cheer.”

New to the race — and the peloton — this year is Aussie outfit GreenEdge, home to Tour Down Under winner Simon Gerrans and Robbie McEwen, who will retire following the final stage.

“We are thrilled to ride the Amgen Tour of California in our debut season,” said general manager Shayne Bannan. “It’s a great race and a fantastic event. It’s real priority for us to bring a strong team to California and the riders really want to go there and make their mark for GreenEDGE. There are a lot of races that stand out on the calendar and the Amgen Tour of California is one of those we don’t want to miss. Having it as Robbie McEwen’s last race, will make it extra special for us an Australian team.”

2012 Amgen Tour of California teams

UCI ProTeams
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Rabobank Cycling Team (NED)
Garmin-Barracuda (USA)
RadioShack-Nissan-Trek (LUX)
Liquigas-Cannondale (ITA)
Omega Pharma-QuickStep (BEL)
AG2R La Mondiale (FRA)
GreenEDGE Cycling Team (AUS)

UCI Professional Continental Teams
Team Spidertech Powered By C10 (CAN)
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team (USA)
Project 1t4i (NED)
Colombia-Coldeportes (COL)

UCI Continental Teams
Team Optum Presented By Kelly Benefit Strategies (USA)
Bissell Pro Cycling (USA)
Team Exergy (USA)
Bontrager Livestrong Team (USA)