As America’s biggest stage race, Amgen Tour of California attracts top riders from around the world for the seven-day Tour in mid-May, which also includes a Women’s WorldTour event.
NorCal’s Ben Jacques-Maynes has been a mainstay domestic pro at the Amgen Tour of California since the race’s first edition in 2006, and he’s back for 2009. Jacques-Maynes, who hails from Berkeley but lives outside of Santa Cruz, will co-captain the Bissell squad alongside fellow time-trial specialist Tom Zirbel.
On Saturday Lance Armstrong returns to pro racing in America. Following the Tour Down Under in January — his first stage race since coming out of retirement — Armstrong returned home to Texas for a week before heading to Astana’s Santa Rosa team camp. A few days before heading to California for the Amgen Tour, Armstrong spoke with VeloNews about his expectations for the race, his teammate and two-time race winner Levi Leipheimer, and his take on some of the other major teams in the race. VeloNews: The Tour of California starts Saturday. How are you feeling?
Just one day before heading out to the Amgen Tour of California, Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling) stopped by the VeloNews offices with his Pinarello FM1 time trial bike. He was on his way out for a last day of training before joining the star-studded peloton in Sacramento for Saturday’s prologue. We got some photos and component highlights, and enjoyed a relaxed conversation with Zirbel.
The VELOVE Winter Bicycle Festival is about to transform downtown Santa Rosa into a bicycle wonderland during Valentines Day weekend, February 14-15. Held in conjunction with the 2009 Amgen Tour of California, VELOVE is packed with events for everyone, including bike competitions, race viewing parties, non-profit fundraising events, a pro race team signing and plenty more. It is a joint production between Bike Monkey, the City of Santa Rosa, Mainstreet and West Coast GoldSprints. To learn more and register for events, visit www.VeloveFestival.com
Scott Nydam completed not one but two team training camps in preparation for the Amgen Tour of California. The BMC rider, who claimed the 2008 King of the Mountains overall title, attended BMC’s January camp in his adopted state of California. Then he hitched onto the back of his friend Levi Leipheimer’s Astana team camp, based near the Santa Rosa area where both men live.
Mark Suprenant remembers the worst time he ever went low. He was at the base of the final climb of the Mount Wachusett road race when he felt his feet go numb. He didn’t have any food, nor did any of the other riders in his group. Suprenant decided to suck it up and ride to the top.
Coming off a fiery debut in the Tour of Qatar where he took two stages, Columbia-Highroad’s fastman Mark Cavendish says he’s ready for more action at the Amgen Tour of California. “California is a massively important race for our team, and we’ve got a really strong line-up for the general classification,” Cavendish said. “I’ve looked at the route and it’s a very tough course, a lot tougher than last year. On paper, there’s only one stage that seems certain to end in a bunch sprint, so I will be targeting that one for sure.”
The Versus network will now air live coverage of the Tour of California weekend stages in addition to its live weekday coverage.
Australian sprinter Aaron Kemps (Rock Racing) has withdrawn from the upcoming Amgen Tour of California after being treated for a hernia this week. Surgeons in his hometown of Bundaberg, Australia, operated on Kemps on Wednesday and he is expected to fully recover. That recovery, however, will not come in time for Kemps to toe the line at the California tour, which is scheduled to begin February 14.