Levi Leipheimer Wins Inaugural Amgen Tour of California PrologueSan Francisco, February 19, 2006 – An estimated crowd of more than 200,000 witnessed history as Levi Leipheimer (USA) of team Gerolsteiner led an American sweep of the top five places in the Prologue of the inaugural Amgen Tour of California, an international professional cycling stage race taking place throughout California from February 19-26.
Leipheimer eclipsed the best time held by fellow American Bobby Julich of Team CSC, the first rider to break the five-minute barrier on the challenging 1.9 mile course that finished with a significant climb up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower.
After leaving the start house third-to-last, Leipheimer finished with a time of 4’53”43, nearly five seconds faster than second-place Julich, who had previously set the standard for the 25 remaining riders, which included the world time trial champion Michael Rogers (AUS) of T-Mobile Team. Julich’s time held up to close contests by Discovery Channel’s George Hincapie (USA), Floyd Landis (USA) of Phonak and David Zabriskie (USA) of Team CSC, who finished third, fourth and fifth respectively.
“Amgen Tour of California is a great race and I can’t tell you how proud I am to be leading the first race,” said Leipheimer after fending off one final challenge from three-time defending time trial world champion Michael Rogers (TMO). “[This race] is, right out of the start house, the biggest race in the U.S.,” Leipheimer continued, “it’s definitely going to be the fastest growing race that the world has seen with the support of AEG and Amgen.”
In a podium presentation featuring California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Leipheimer was presented with the first Amgen Leader Jersey. With his second place finish, Julich wears the Clif Bar Sprint Jersey for tomorrow’s start in Sausalito. Bernhard Kohl (AUT) of T-Mobile Team earned the California Travel and Tourism King of the Mountain Jersey by posting the fastest split from the turn onto Lombard Street to the finish line. Colavita Oliva/Sutter Home’s Zachary Grabowski (USA) earned the Union Bank Best Young Rider Jersey, designated for the best-placed rider under the age of 23.
Tomorrow’s stage will bring the riders 81.5 miles from Sausalito to Santa Rosa. Heading north on Highway One through the Marin Headlands and into Point Reyes National Seashore, the sprinters will contest the first Clif Bar Sprint in Point Reyes before spectators in Santa Rosa watch Leipheimer defend his leader jersey on three laps of a technical finishing circuit in downtown Santa Rosa.
For more full results, official times and archived footage, photos and play-by-play from today’s stage of the Amgen Tour of California, please visit the official race website at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
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