SACRAMENTO (February 14, 2009)
The 2009 Amgen Tour of California got underway in Sacramento as California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor Patrick Dempsey and record crowds cheered on the exciting Prologue win, for the second consecutive year, of 2008 Olympic time trial champion Fabian Cancellara (SUI) of Saxo Bank. On a short, fast, flat individual time trial course in downtown Sacramento, Cancellara crossed the finish line in record time with the State Capitol building in the background. Cancellara beat out top cyclists, including two Tour de France champions, 10 world champions and seven Olympic medalists to take the win. The enthusiastic crowd, comprised of shoulder-to-shoulder fans, cheered on the cyclists as they made their way through downtown Sacramento.
Completing the 2.41-mile course with a record time of 4:32, Cancellara will begin day two of the race wearing the Amgen Leader Jersey when Stage 1 takes the riders from Davis to Santa Rosa, a new route for the race, on Sunday beginning at noon.
In second place, two seconds behind Cancellara, was defending champion Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Astana, followed closely by David Zabriskie (USA) of Garmin-Slipstream, who came in third, three seconds off the pace.
"I think this was an absolutely fantastic day powered by the amazing cyclists, and also by the force of the fans," said Andrew Messick, president, AEG Sports. "By and large, this was the most successful Prologue we have ever had and a fantastic way to start the 2009 Amgen Tour of California. This field of world-class cyclists, assembled for the fourth-annual race, has some incredible days of racing ahead of them, and fans are in for quite a show."
Featuring an almost level profile, the 2.41-mile course had cycling fans lined up, almost 10-deep in places, to see the race action.
"The Amgen Tour of California is the first race of the year and I'm very happy," said Cancellara. "This is a beautiful race and I like coming every year. This is the second time I've won the Prologue, so it makes me happy. There is lots of beautiful scenery and the crowds are great."
Early race favorites include two-time defending champion Leipheimer of Santa Rosa, who finished second (4:34); George Hincapie (USA) of Team Columbia-Highroad (4:36), who finished sixth; Tom Boonen (BEL) of QuickStep, who finished seventh (4:36); and Christian Vande Velde (USA) of Garmin-Slipstream, who finished 22nd (4:41).
The newly unveiled, Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer™ Most Courageous Rider Jersey was awarded to Lance Armstrong (USA) of Astana, with the Herbalife Sprint Jersey went to two-time overall defending champion Leipheimer. The Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey was claimed by Mark Cavendish (GBR) of Team Columbia-Highroad. The California Travel & Tourism Commission King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey will be awarded for the first time after Stage 1 tomorrow, along with the other jerseys.
Title sponsor Amgen is continuing its complementary Breakaway from Cancer™ initiative in 2009.
"Amgen is proud to join AEG for the fourth year as the title sponsor of the Amgen Tour of California. This race provides us the opportunity to be part of a truly world-class event that attracts the interest of millions of people while promoting health and wellness in Amgen's headquarters state of California," said George Morrow, executive vice president, Global Commercial Operations, Amgen. Morrow shot the start gun and presented the Gold jersey at today's prologue, officially opening the 2009 Amgen Tour of California.
"Our title sponsorship allows Amgen the opportunity to raise awareness of our company, our mission to serve patients and the promise of medical breakthroughs through biotechnology," Morrow added. "It also allows us to support cancer patients and their families nationwide through the Breakaway from Cancer initiative."
Amgen created the national Breakaway from Cancer initiative in 2005 as a complementary component to its sponsorship of the inaugural Amgen Tour of California. The Breakaway from Cancer initiative is designed to empower patients by connecting them to education, resources and hope. As part of the initiative, Amgen supports the valuable programs and services provided by its Breakaway from Cancer partner organizations the Lance Armstrong Foundation, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, Patient Advocate Foundation, Prevent Cancer Foundation, Stand Up To Cancer and The Wellness Community.
For access to resources and details about Breakaway from Cancer activities during the race, visit www.breakawayfromcancer.com