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Cancellara wins Amgen prologue second year in a row

Schwarzenegger, Dempsey, enthusiastic fans line Sacto streets

Posted: February 18, 2009 3:15 p.m.
Updated: February 14, 2009 8:30 p.m.
 

SACRAMENTO (February 14, 2009) - The 2009 Amgen Tour of California got underway in Sacramento as California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor Patrick Dempsey and record crowds cheered on the exciting Prologue win, for the second consecutive year, of 2008 Olympic time trial champion Fabian Cancellara (SUI) of Saxo Bank.

On a short, fast, flat individual time trial course in downtown Sacramento, Cancellara crossed the finish line in record time with the State Capitol building in the background.

Cancellara beat out top cyclists, including two Tour de France champions, 10 world champions and seven Olympic medalists to take the win. The enthusiastic crowd, comprised of shoulder-to-shoulder fans, cheered on the cyclists as they made their way through downtown Sacramento.

Completing the 2.41-mile course with a record time of 4:32, Cancellara will begin day two of the race wearing the Amgen Leader Jersey when Stage 1 takes the riders from Davis to Santa Rosa, a new route for the race, on Sunday beginning at noon.

In second place, two seconds behind Cancellara, was defending champion Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Astana, followed closely by David Zabriskie (USA) of Garmin-Slipstream, who came in third, three seconds off the pace.

"I think this was an absolutely fantastic day powered by the amazing cyclists, and also by the force of the fans," said Andrew Messick, president, AEG Sports. "By and large, this was the most successful Prologue we have ever had and a fantastic way to start the 2009 Amgen Tour of California. This field of world-class cyclists, assembled for the fourth-annual race, has some incredible days of racing ahead of them, and fans are in for quite a show."

Featuring an almost level profile, the 2.41-mile course had cycling fans lined up, almost 10-deep in places, to see the race action.

"The Amgen Tour of California is the first race of the year and I'm very happy," said Cancellara. "This is a beautiful race and I like coming every year. This is the second time I've won the Prologue, so it makes me happy. There is lots of beautiful scenery and the crowds are great."

Early race favorites include two-time defending champion Leipheimer of Santa Rosa, who finished second (4:34); George Hincapie (USA) of Team Columbia-Highroad (4:36), who finished sixth; Tom Boonen (BEL) of QuickStep, who finished seventh (4:36); and Christian Vande Velde (USA) of Garmin-Slipstream, who finished 22nd (4:41).

The newly unveiled, Amgen's Breakaway from CancerTM Most Courageous Rider Jersey was awarded to Lance Armstrong (USA) of Astana, with the Herbalife Sprint Jersey went to two-time overall defending champion Leipheimer.

The Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey was claimed by Mark Cavendish (GBR) of Team Columbia-Highroad.

The California Travel & Tourism Commission King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey will be awarded for the first time after Stage 1 tomorrow, along with the other jerseys.|

Title sponsor Amgen is continuing its complementary Breakaway from CancerTM initiative in 2009.

"Amgen is proud to join AEG for the fourth year as the title sponsor of the Amgen Tour of California. This race provides us the opportunity to be part of a truly world-class event that attracts the interest of millions of people while promoting health and wellness in Amgen's headquarters state of California," said George Morrow, executive vice president, Global Commercial Operations, Amgen.

Morrow shot the start gun and presented the Gold jersey at today's prologue, officially opening the 2009 Amgen Tour of California.

"Our title sponsorship allows Amgen the opportunity to raise awareness of our company, our mission to serve patients and the promise of medical breakthroughs through biotechnology," Morrow added. "It also allows us to support cancer patients and their families nationwide through the Breakaway from Cancer initiative."

Amgen created the national Breakaway from Cancer initiative in 2005 as a complementary component to its sponsorship of the inaugural Amgen Tour of California. The Breakaway from Cancer initiative is designed to empower patients by connecting them to education, resources and hope.

As part of the initiative, Amgen supports the valuable programs and services provided by its Breakaway from Cancer partner organizations - the Lance Armstrong Foundation, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, Patient Advocate Foundation, Prevent Cancer Foundation, Stand Up To Cancer and The Wellness Community.

For access to resources and details about Breakaway from Cancer activities during the race, visit www.breakawayfromcancer.com.

STAGE 1 TOMORROW:
Sunday, Feb. 15 - Davis to Santa Rosa (107.6 mi/173.2 km)
Start Time: Noon PT
Estimated Finish Time: 3:50-4:30 p.m. PT

A new stage for the Amgen Tour of California, the route from Davis to Santa Rosa will provide plenty of scenic settings for both the cyclists and the spectators. Beginning in the city of Davis, which recently was named the best cycling town in the United States by Bicycling Magazine, the route includes evenly spaced climbs throughout the stage and spectacular views.

After 20 miles of flat roads, the riders will meet their first climb up a short, but steep section leading up to the Monticello Dam. Another long, flat section along Lake Berryessa will take the riders to their second climb up Howell Mountain Rd., followed by a fast descent into Napa Valley.

After one final climb and a steep descent from Calistoga Road, the cyclists will finish the race with circuit laps in downtown Santa Rosa. In previous years, Santa Rosa fans have set the mark for one of the largest and most enthusiastic crowds of the entire race.

Sunday, Feb. 15 - Women's Criterium
Start Time: 1 p.m.
Finish Time: 2 p.m.
Fans in Santa Rosa will have the opportunity to watch the second-annual Amgen Tour of California Women's Criterium. Held in conjunction with Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California, the Women's Criterium will begin at 1 p.m. and will showcase some of the world's top professional women cyclists competing for $15,000 in prizes. Set as a category Pro 1/2 race, the Amgen Tour of California Women's Criterium will have a limit of eight riders per team. Once again using portions of the Stage 1 men's finishing circuit in Santa Rosa, the Women's Criterium will bring the thrill of professional women's cycling to fans in the hours just before the men's finish in downtown Santa Rosa.

For full results, archived footage, GPS data, course information, race play-by-play and more, please visit the official race Web site at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.

In addition to the Web site, fans can view the race on the daily VERSUS broadcasts. Stage 1 will air on VERSUS tomorrow at 3 p.m. PT/6 p.m. ET.

About the Amgen 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 is expanded to cover more than 750 miles over nine days from February 14-22, 2009.

About Amgen
Amgen discovers, develops, manufactures and delivers innovative human therapeutics. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realize the new science's promise by bringing safe and effective medicines from lab, to manufacturing plant, to patient. Amgen therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other serious illnesses. With a broad and deep pipeline of potential new medicines, Amgen remains committed to advancing science to dramatically improve people's lives. To learn more about Amgen's pioneering science and vital medicines, visit www.amgen.com. To learn more about Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer initiative, visit www.breakawayfromcancer.com.

About AEG
AEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Anschutz Company, owns or controls a collection of companies including facilities such as STAPLES Center, The Home Depot Center, Sprint Center, The O2, NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE and NOKIA Theatre Times Square; sports franchises including the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), two Major League Soccer franchises, a Major League Lacrosse team, two hockey franchises operated in Europe, management of privately held shares of the Los Angeles Lakers, the ING Bay to Breakers foot race and the Amgen Tour of California cycling road race; AEG LIVE, the organization's live-entertainment division, is a collection of companies dedicated to all aspects of live contemporary music performance, touring and a variety of programming and multi-media production. For more information, visit AEG today at www.aegworldwide.com.

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