2009 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.
The 2009 edition 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 (Astana), the 136 rider peloton also is expected to include 2008 Olympic Champion in the time trial Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), and two-time United States National Champion George Hincapie (Team Columbia). Other anticipated participants include, 2008 Tour de France Champion Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam); four-time Norwegian National Champion Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam); Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia), widely considered to be the world’s best sprinter; and 2008 Tour de France Best Young Rider Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank).
The 750-mile, nine-day stage race, modeled after the Tour de France, will take 17 of the world’s top professional cycling teams from Sacramento to San Diego County from February 14-22. This years edition is sure to be loaded with fireworks with the start list of riders including two Tour de France Champions (Armstrong, Sastre), a Giro d’Italia Champion (Ivan 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 Champions.
Look for the following Oakley athletes to add to the action in the coming days:
Lance Armstrong (Austin, TX)
OAKLEY 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.
Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) -OAKLEY – 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 (Isle of Man) -OAKLEY – 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.
George Hincapie (Greenville, SC) -OAKLEY – 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 year.
Thor Hushovd (Norway) -OAKLEY – 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 EspaÃ±a. In 2006, he won the prestigious Belgian Classic Fleche Wallone.
Kim Kirchen (Luxembourg) -OAKLEY – 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.
Michael Rogers (Australia) -OAKLEY – 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) -OAKLEY – 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.
Jens Voigt (Germany) -OAKLEY – 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.
*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 www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.