Amgen commits to two more years as Tour of California sponsor
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Thursday, August 04, 2011

Amgen commits to two more years as Tour of California sponsor

by Ben Atkins at 5:46 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of California
 
Future of the race assured through 2013 with support from biotech company

michael rogersAmgen, the California based biotech company, has committed to a further two years as title sponsor to the Tour of California, according to Sports Business Daily. The company, which manufactures a number of pharmaceutical products, including Epogen and Aranesp – two brands of EPO – has put its name to the race since its inception in 2006. The original three-year deal was extended in 2008, but expired after the end of the latest edition of the race on May 22nd.

The eight-day race was originally held in late-February, but switched to its new mid-May date in 2010 in the hope of better weather and the possibility of being able to use higher mountain roads. Despite it now clashing with the Giro d’Italia, considerably reducing the number of Americans appearing at the first Grand Tour of the year, the race has attracted stronger fields as riders look for preparation races before the Tour de France.

Despite the later date though, the weather has not always been kind to the race, with stage one of this year’s event having to be cancelled, and stage two shortened, due to heavy snow.

With estimated operating costs of $12 million, and with nine of the eighteen first division ProTeams attracted to the 2011 edition, The Amgen Tour of California is by far the biggest race in the United States. It may find competition from the USA Pro Cycling Challenge though, which will take place for the first time in Colorado, the USA’s cycling heartland, this month. Other races, such as the Tour of Georgia, have recently disappeared because of the inability to find replacement sponsors.

The future of the California race, which is owned and operated by AEG Sports, was in some doubt after the last two editions were overshadowed by big doping revelations. The 2010 race coincided with the release of a number of emails written by disgraced former Tour winner Floyd Landis, accusing Lance Armstrong of systematic drug use throughout his career. During this year’s race Tyler Hamilton, another of Armstrong’s former teammates, appeared on US news magazine Sixty Minutes, also accusing Armstrong with claims that backed up many of Landis’.

While it attracts an international field, all but one editions of the race have been won by Americans. The first race was won by Landis, Levi Leipheimer took three in a row between 2007 and 2009; Australian Michael Rogers (pictured) became the first foreigner to win in 2010, while Chris Horner took it back for the home country this year.

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