November 2/05 10:18 am - Tour of California Announces Route & Sponsor
Posted by Editor on 11/2/05
Tour of California
by Pamela Heisey, O2 Sports Media
Tour of California Announces Amgen as Title Sponsor
Amgen, the world's largest biotechnology company and maker of the drug EPO, was announced today as the three-year title sponsor for the Tour of California. The pro cycling event begins in San Francisco on February 19, 2006 and ends in Los Angeles on February 26.
"We see the event as an opportunity to educate people about the proper use of EPO (Epogen) and how dangerous and wrong it is to abuse it," said Phyllis Piano, Vice President, Corporate Communications and Philanthropy at Amgen Inc. "We never dreamed athletes would use EPO for cycling. EPO is not intended for athletes to gain a competitive advantage."
The 7-stage, 700 mile Amgen Tour of California race starts in San Francisco on February 19th with a prologue. The race route then takes riders from Sausalito to Santa Rosa; Martinez to San Jose; an individual time trial in San Jose; Monterey to San Luis Obispo; Santa Barbara to Thousand Oaks; and, finishes with a circuit race in Redondo Beach on February 26th.
The Inaugural Tour of California will allow 16 teams to compete in the race and has already signed 6 six ProTour teams: Discovery, Gerolsteiner, Davitamon-Lotto, Phonak, Saunier Duval Prodir, T-Mobile and the U.S.'s two top continental teams - Health Net/Maxxis, and Navigators Insurance.
The event, sanctioned by USA Cycling and UCI, and will be televised on ESPN.
Sean Petty, Chief of Staff, USA Cycling, said, "we won the lottery in terms of the worldwide population that will be exposed to the sport and the level of teams that will be here in the first year."
Amgen Tour of California will award the most prize money of any cycling event in the United States.
AEG, the event owner, is investing 35 million (U.S. $) in the event over the next five years with the goal of making the event the second largest cycling race in the world behind the Tour de France.
Timothy Leiweke, CEO and President of AEG, states one of the motivations behind hosting an event of this scale, "I think it's a crime that if we look at cycling in this country today two of the greatest cyclists in the history of cycling are from the United States and our athletes must go and train in Europe, and our athletes much go and compete in Europe." We want to bring that level of competition here to the United States."
With of show of unprecedented municipal support, mayors from seven cities from San Francisco to Los Angeles were in attendance.
Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco, stated: "Whether they want to start at the Coit Tower, the Embarcardero, or the Golden Gate Bridge, for that matter, I don't care, we'll make it work, we're behind the event 100%."