Sixteen international and domestic teams have confirmed participation in the first ever Amgen Tour of California, scheduled to begin February 19 in San Francisco. Team CSC, the world's number-one ranked cycling team, the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, T-Mobile, Davitamon-Lotto and Health Net presented by Maxxis, winners of the USPRO road, criterium and NRC championships in 2005 will headline a field that includes eight ProTour teams.
"The Amgen Tour of California is an event that attracts our style of racing -- we like to ride aggressively and show some spectacular cycling," CSC's Bjarne Riis said in statement. "The organizers have put together a really challenging route that suits the riders we will bring. Naturally, we have very high ambitions for this race we have always enjoyed racing in the States and we look forward to a great week in California in February."
AEG, the organizers of the event, also released more detailed route descriptions for the eight days, beginning with a prologue time trial in San Francisco, and including an individual time trial and a 130 mile hilly epic from Monterey to San Luis Obispo. "We designed the inaugural course with both racers and spectators in mind," said Bob Colarossi, managing director of AEG Cycling, LLC. "It offers the world's best cyclists some of the most challenging terrain that California has to offer. We've designed a beautiful course and we look forward to bringing a beautiful sporting event to the doorsteps of California communities."
Team CSC (Den)
Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team (USA)
Phonak Hearing Systems (Swi)
Prodir-Saunier Duval (Spa)
Credit Agricole (Fra)
T-Mobile Team (Ger)
Health Net Presented by Maxxis (USA)
Navigators Insurance Cycling Team (USA)
Colavita Olive Oil/Sutter Home Wines Professional Cycling Team (USA)
United Pro Cycling Team (USA)
Team TIAA-CREF (USA)
Kodakgallery.com/Sierra Nevada Pro Cycling (USA)
Jelly Belly Cycling Team (USA)
KB Home Mexican National Team (Mex)
Prologue - Sunday, February 19: San Francisco ITT, 3km
At 11:00 a.m., riders will open the competition with a short, intense prologue through the streets of San Francisco. Starting by the Ferry Building at Pier 1, the 1.9-mile/3km course will run along the Embarcardero until making the sharp left onto Bay Street that will bring the riders up the tight and steep climb through Telegraph Hill to the finish at Coit Tower.
Stage 1 - Monday, February 20: Sausalito - Santa Rosa, 134km
With the start on the Marin side of the San Francisco Bay, stage one will cover roughly 84 miles/134km from Sausalito to Santa Rosa. On its way up Highway 1, the course will run through the Marin Headlands, flanked on both sides by national parkland, before leaving the Point Reyes National Seashore for the race's first sprint competition line in Point Reyes. After crossing into Sonoma, the field completes three laps of a technical finishing circuit in downtown Santa Rosa.
Stage 2 - Tuesday, February 21: San Jose
The race will next turn south toward two decisive days in San Jose. After neutral parade laps in the start city of Martinez, the stage is a hilly ride through the East Bay that will bring the race over its first significant climb. Coming 22 miles before the finish line in downtown San Jose, the Sierra Road climb east of the city center will be the first Category One ascent in the King of the Mountains competition.
Stage 3 - Wednesday, February 22: San Jose ITT, 27km
A 17-mile/27km individual time trial on the outskirts of San Jose will test the cyclists on an undulating course along the Chesbro and Calero Reservoirs.
Stage 4 - Thursday, February 23: Monterey - San Luis Obispo, 208km
The "Queen Stage" of this year's race begins in Monterey and follows scenic Highway 1 where the mountains run into the Pacific Ocean. At 130 miles/208km, this is the longest stage of the 2006 race and will test the riders on consistently hilly and technical terrain. The six-hour day will see the athletes go through the community of Big Sur and by Hearst Castle before shifting inland toward the finish in San Luis Obispo.
Stage 5 - Friday, February 24: San Luis Obispo - Santa Barbara
Starting in Mission Plaza in San Luis Obispo, Stage Five to Santa Barbara will follow the central coast until the sprint city of Guadalupe, where the field will leave the flatlands and head east to the Santa Ynez Mountains via the Solvang area. The riders will then face the four-mile Category One climb to San Marcos Pass before descending to a beachfront finish in Santa Barbara.
Stage 6: Saturday, February 25: Santa Barbara - Thousand Oaks, 142km
This shorter stage with a hilly profile from Santa Barbara to Thousand Oaks features four KOM climbs in the 80 miles that precede three laps of a three-mile circuit in Thousand Oaks that will cover the stage's final ten miles before finishing at title sponsor Amgen's corporate campus.
Stage 7: Saturday, February 26: Redondo Beach, 122km
The race will culminate with a circuit race in Redondo Beach. The stage will be active as the riders compete on ten laps of a 7.65 mile/12.2km circuit along the Redondo Beach Esplanade and through an intermediate sprint line in Riviera Village before returning to the start/finish line on Harbor Street.