Hincapie, Cancellara and Co excited about Amgen Tour of California
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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hincapie, Cancellara and Co excited about Amgen Tour of California

by Bjorn Haake at 4:18 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of California

The Tour of California gets underway on Sunday and runs until May 23rd. From Nevada City in Northern California via the state's capital, the race will travel south and make its first ever appearance at the top of Big Bear, the ski resort outside Los Angeles. Several of the key players attended the pre-race press conference.

One team highly motivated is the American BMC outfit, with George Hincapie as the captain. "The new team has been great so far," Hincapie said. "We started the year with slight growing pains, being a new team. But the team's really gaining some momentum right now and we're hoping to continue that."

Hincapie will have to battle three-time winner Levi Leipheimer, but there is another American with special motivation, David Zabriskie. Stage seven will be the individual time trial that has been moved from its regular Solvang slot to Los Angeles. "I'm looking forward to racing in my new hometown, Los Angeles," Zabriskie said. "But I'd be looking forward to it regardless if I was a resident or not."

Another favorite for the time trial crown has to be Fabian Cancellara, after his excellent spring, where he took the Tour of Flanders/Paris-Roubaix double. But the Swiss rider does not see him as the favorite for the Los Angeles time trial. "This is my first race after my break. I'm happy to come back to this race, but how good am I? I don't know.

"What I know for sure is I didn't have the best preparation for coming here. What's important is that I'm getting back. I think it's important that I am relaxed and I'm looking forward to this beautiful race. Hopefully the weather will stay the way it is," Cancellara said in sunny Sacramento.

But you can never count out the Saxo Bank power rider, and taking a break is sometimes all you need. "I have the energy that I need and the form to be in the top. The most important thing was to rest after the Classics."

Before the time trial, there will be a way to see Los Angeles from a scenic spot, as stage six sees the riders climb up to Big Bear Lake. Not everyone knows the climb. "We arrived a few days ago, so hopefully we can get ready for the race. I heard there's a really hard climb ahead of us," Andy Schleck said. Just how hard it is, Schleck will find out on Friday.

Before the time trial and mountain specialists get their say, the sprinters want to lighten up Sacramento. "I'm excited to be here," HTC-Columbia's Mark Cavendish said. "We're a great team, this is a great race. We're looking forward to it." Cavendish will look for season win number three on his way to a good Tour de France.

Just as excited as the riders was Andrew Messick, president from the organizing AEG Sports. "In our five years we've succeeded in becoming an increasingly exciting race on the international cycling calendar. We are giving cycling fans in the U.S. the opportunity to see the very best cyclists in the world."

Messick hopes the move away from the early season spot pays off. "We are really happy that the sun is shining and our move to May has put us in the heart of the cycling season. It's also given us a chance to showcase new and more scenic parts of the state and give the fans of California blue skies and warm weather."

Race Director Jim Birrell was happy to be able to present a tougher route in 2010. "We have 16 host cities that will let us grace their city with a worldwide audience. As we hit the streets of San Francisco and head down the coast of California, you will see that this year's Amgen Tour of California will be more challenging than in previous years."


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