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.
Photos 2009 ATOC prologue: Graham Watson gallery: Arnold and Cancellara. Photo: Graham Watson Photo Gallery
George Hincapie described the scene at the Amgen Tour of California prologue in Sacramento Saturday, saying only Tour de France crowds could compare. And those crowds were treated to a Tour de France-caliber show, with Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) blazing the downtown 3.9km course with a winning time of 4:32.
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If there is any doubt about Astana’s commitment to Levi Leipheimer as the undisputed leader and odds-on favorite to win the Amgen Tour of California, one look at his new Trek time trial bike will quickly dispel it.
Floyd Landis’ 2009 Amgen Tour of California got off to a bumpy start before it even started. Out on a training ride with his OUCH teammates two days before the race, Landis went down on a slick patch of road. Dressed for the cold, wet weather, Landis wasn’t seriously hurt. His manager Scott Thomson said Landis finished the training ride. “He’s fine. He’s super fit,” Thomson said, adding that the crash was just an ill-timed annoyance.
If you enlarged a pancake to be 3.9km long, it would be much lumpier than the prologue of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California. That's to say — the 2.4-mile course is nearly dead flat with only an oh-so-slight rise coming in the first half mile. The Sacramento skies have delivered steady rain the last two days, as teams have arrived and headed out for training rides.
Promoters of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California released the final roster for the nine-day race starting Feb. 14. The race will feature 17 teams of eight riders each. Astana (KAZ) 1. Levi Leipheimer (USA) 2. Lance Armstrong (USA) 3. Janez Brajkovic (SLO) 4. Christopher Horner (USA) 5. Steve Morabito (SUI) 6. Yaroslav Popovych (UKR) 7. José Luis Rubiera Vigil (ESP) 8. Gregory Rast (SUI) Saxo Bank (DEN) 11. Fabian Cancellara (SUI) 12. Andy Schleck (LUX) 13. Fränk Schleck (LUX) 14. Gustav Larsson (SWE) 15. Jason McCartney (USA)
Just how much power does it take to ride the Amgen Tour of California? We’ll show you each day, thanks to Team Saxo Bank’s Gustav Larsson. Larsson may not be a widely recognized name yet within American cycling circles, but wait. The Swede finished fifth overall in last year’s Tour of California, and also claimed the silver medal in the Beijing Olympic individual time trial, only 33 seconds behind his Team Saxo Bank teammate Fabian Cancellara. Gustav will be providing his SRM power meter files for each stage of the California tour.[nid:87694]
Most American sports wait until the end of the season for The Big One. The Super Bowl, The Final Four, the World Series – all of these come at the conclusion of many months of competition. For American cycling, it doesn’t get any bigger than the Amgen Tour of California, which begins Saturday with the best riders in the world throwing down on the streets of Sacramento.
Anyone wondering how defending Amgen Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer is approaching this year’s event had those questions put to rest Thursday at a pre-race press conference, where the Astana rider confidently stated that he has returned to win the race for a third time, backed by the strongest team in the race.