A star-studded roster is building for the 2009 Tour of California, as returning champion Levi Leipheimer brings new Astana teammate Lance Armstrong to help defend his title against Ivan Basso (Liquigas), George Hincapie (Team Columbia), Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) and Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream), among others.
The 750-mile (1207km), nine-day stage race will bring together a world-class field of cycling teams from multiple nations, including eight of the sport's top-rated ProTour teams. Race organizers confirmed today that entries for the fourth annual race will include Quick Step, Rabobank and AG2R-La Mondiale.
"We have a great roster of top athletes, and the Amgen Tour of California delivers a great stage on which to perform," said Bob Stapleton, owner of Team Columbia Highroad. "The Amgen Tour of California is great for the sport of cycling in the U.S. and great for the sport overall."
Several of the ProTour professional cycling teams will hold their pre-season training camps in California, which will give residents throughout the state an opportunity to watch these elite athletes prepare for the top professional cycling race in the United States.
Split between teams who compete on the UCI ProTour and those who race predominately in the United States, the field of athletes competing in the 2009 Amgen Tour of California will be one of the most diverse, accomplished groups of cyclists ever assembled for a stage race in the U.S. The full list of teams will be announced in January, with final rosters due in February.
"We have invited the best teams that the world has to offer to compete on an outstanding course," said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports, presenter of the race."
The fourth running of the race will take the world's top professional cycling teams from Sacramento to San Diego County from February 14 to 22, 2009.
For more information, visit www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.