By Odessa Gunn in Santa Rosa
At today's press conference in Santa Rosa for the upcoming Tour of California, Levi Leipheimer gave his views on his own form and who he predicts will win this brand new event on the American cycling calendar.
Leipheimer, who was described by Mayor Jane Bender as the 'Hometown Hero'. described the TOC as a miniature Tour De France. "It has the climbs, the long stages, the weather and the time trials," said Leipheimer, who noted that although this is the best shape he's ever been in at this time of the year, he's not in Tour de France form just yet. "It's early in the season and this will be my first race." When asked who his race favourite will be for the TOC, Leipheimer tipped time trial specialist David Zabriskie.
Mayor Jane Bender spoke of the impact the race will have on the city of Santa Rosa and how much the city is looking forward to an opportunity to celebrate as a community. "This race is a chance for Santa Rosa to show off the gorgeous roads we have for premier cycling. Santa Rosa is the place to cycle."
Bob Colarrasi, the managing director of the Amgen Tour of California made one point very clear. The Tour of California is first of all, for the athletes. Colarrasi stressed the importance of the athletes having a great experience racing in California. He and the other organizers are rolling out the red carpet for sixteen of the finest cycling teams in the World.
The Tour of California will run from February 19-26, starting in San Francisco and finishing in Redondo Beach.