Hometown Hero Levi Leipheimer Takes Victory at 2007 Amgen Tour of California Prologue in San Francisco for Second Straight YearEarly Estimates Indicate Crowd Tops Last Year's by Nearly 100,000
SAN FRANCISCO, February 18, 2007 – For the second consecutive year, Santa Rosa resident Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team) rode to victory during the 2007 Amgen Tour of California Prologue stage before an enthusiastic crowd that San Francisco city officials estimated to be between 280,000 to 300,000 fans.
Reaching Coit Tower from San Francisco's famed Embarcadero in a record time of 4:49.05, Leipheimer will once again proudly ride into Santa Rosa wearing the Amgen Leader's Jersey when Stage 1 takes the riders from Sausalito to Santa Rosa Monday morning.
Among the record crowds, cycling fan Patrick Dempsey (Grey's Anatomy) was on hand in support of race sponsor Amgen's complementary initiative, Breakaway from Cancer™.
Fitting for the largest sporting event in the state, two California cyclists placed in the top three. Behind Leipheimer, Jason Donald (Team Slipstream Powered by Chipotle) took second place, followed by San Jose resident Benjamin Jacques-Maynes (Priority Health Cycling Team Presented by Bissell). Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team (USA) leads the general team classification after today with a total time of 14:45.
"I want to thank the city of San Francisco for having us back. They are an amazing host," said Shawn Hunter, president of AEG Sports, presenters of the race. "As we launch America’s most important cycling race, we give our commitment to the million-plus spectators who will witness our event, the more than 100 million who will tune in on TV and to our Web site and 144 of the best cyclists ever, that not only will we present a first-class race but we will stay focused on making the Amgen Tour of California a race as respected worldwide as the Tour de France and other Grand Tours."
A 180-degree wind shift after the first 30 minutes of racing put the later riders at a disadvantage. The final rider of the day, Leipheimer rode hard into the wind to best last year's time of 4:53.43 by about 4 seconds for the 1.92 mile-course (3.1km), which ended with a steep climb to the San Francisco landmark, Coit Tower.
"This gives me the opportunity to wear the leader's jersey into my hometown of Santa Rosa," said the jubilant 33 year-old who stated in the pre-race press conference that doing so in this race one year ago had provided him with one of the best days of his career. "This race ranks up there with some of the best on a very short list in the world. It looks good for American cycling."
Early in the day, the seventh rider to start, neo-pro Jason Donald (Team Slipstream presented by Chipotle), from Winter Park, Colo. surprised everybody by posting a time of 4:50.97. Neither the road cycling world champion, Italy's Paolo Bettini (Quick Step-Innergetic), who placed 122nd with a time of 5:31.57, nor the time trial world champion, Switzerland's Fabien Cancellara (Team CSC), who placed fifth with a time of 4:55.09, could better Donald's remarkable ride. San Jose's Ben Jacques-Maynes (Priority Health Cycling Team Presented by Bissell), the second rider to start, surprised himself by finishing third today, with a time of 4:54.22.
Other pre-race favorites included Discovery Channel Pro's George Hincapie, who finished ninth (4:57:238) and Ivan Basso, who finished 23rd (5:03:351) in his return to racing, and Team CSC's Bobby Julich, who finished 22nd (5:03:221), and Dave Zabriskie, who finished 14th (4:59:169).
Title sponsor Amgen is continuing its complementary Breakaway from Cancer™ initiative in 2007.
“Our mission is to serve patients. Since our founding in 1980, Amgen has used the power of pioneering science to fight serious illness,” said George Morrow, executive vice president, global commercial operations, Amgen. “The Amgen Tour of California sponsorship provides us with opportunities to raise awareness of the many medical advances made possible through biotechnology, and to provide additional support to people affected by cancer through our Breakaway from Cancer™ initiative.”
Amgen created the Breakaway from Cancer™ initiative in 2005 as a complementary component to its title sponsorship of the inaugural Amgen Tour of California. As a result of last year's Breakaway from Cancer effort, Amgen provided more than $1 million to The Wellness Community (TWC), an international non-profit organization dedicated to providing free support, education and hope to people affected by cancer. This year, the initiative expanded and also benefits the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS), the oldest survivor-led cancer advocacy organization in the country. Patrick Dempsey, whose mother is a two-time cancer survivor, is also the initiative’s spokesperson and attended today's race.
“I'm excited to be in San Francisco to help kick off the Amgen Tour of California as part of my participation in the Breakaway from Cancer initiative,” said Patrick Dempsey. “Just as it takes a team approach to win a professional cycling race, it takes a team of health care providers, caregivers and supporters to beat cancer. The Breakaway from Cancer initiative connects people affected by cancer with services and programs that make a difference.”
STAGE 1 TOMORROWMonday, Feb. 19 – Sausalito to Santa Rosa
Estimated Start Time: 11 a.m.
Estimated Finish Time: 3-4 p.m.
Stage 1 will bring the cyclists 96.8 miles from Sausalito to Santa Rosa. In 2006, Santa Rosa set the mark for one of the largest and most enthusiastic crowds of the entire race. Best viewing spots will include: the start in Sausalito near Spinnaker restaurant; the finish on Third Street in Santa Rosa; the sprint lines in Point Reyes and Bodega Bay; the climb up Coleman Valley Road; and Occidental as the race comes down the hill into town.
For full results, archived footage, GPS data, rider bios, course information, race play-by-play and more, please visit the official race Web site at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com
ABOUT AEGAEG 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, Toyota Park, Toyota Sports Center, Anaheim Convention Center Arena, El Rey Theatre, Colosseum at Caesars Palace, NOKIA Theatre at Grand Prairie and NOKIA Theatre Times Square; sports franchises including the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), Los Angeles Riptide (MLL), four Major League Soccer franchises, two hockey franchises operated in Europe, management of privately held shares of the Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) and Los Angeles Sparks (WNBA), 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. Additionally, the company has begun fully developing London’s 28-acre Millennium Dome which includes a 23,000-seat arena, the O2 and over 650,000sf of leisure and entertainment use within the ‘Dome’ and additional arenas; The O2 World on a 45-acre site in the heart of Berlin; Citizen’s Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California; Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri; as well as Red Bull Park, a soccer stadium in Harrison, New Jersey; and L.A. Live, a $2.5 billion sports and entertainment district in downtown Los Angeles. For more information, visit AEG today at www.aegworldwide.com
Media Sponsor: PR Newswire