MERCED ANNOUNCED AS HOST CITY FOR EXPANDED 2009 AMGEN TOUR OF CALIFORNIA
World-Class Professional Cyclists Will Return to California in February to Compete Across 800 Miles of the State in Nine-Day Stage Race
LOS ANGELES (July 23, 2008) – The record-setting Amgen Tour of California professional cycling road race will be expanded in 2009, race presenter AEG announced today through a series of press conferences throughout the state. The 2009 race will include stops in 16 host cities over the course of nine days from February 14-22. Already considered cycling’s most important and successful road race in the United States, the event’s fourth running will be expanded to cover more than 800 miles over the nine days. Traveling almost the entire length of California, the race will begin in the state’s capital, Sacramento, and end in San Diego County (a new addition to the race) with a finish in Escondido on February 22. Also for the first time, the riders will cross the Golden Gate Bridge at the beginning of Stage 3.
The 16 official stage start and finish cities that have been selected for the 2009 race include eight new locales – Davis, Santa Cruz, Merced, Clovis, Visalia, Paso Robles, Rancho Bernardo and Escondido – that will join Sacramento, Santa Rosa, Sausalito, San Jose, Modesto, Solvang, Santa Clarita and Pasadena as host cities along the route. "The Amgen Tour of California is a wonderful opportunity to showcase our City, our residents and our neighbors at UC Merced. We welcome the national and international exposure as the cyclists, their crews and the many fans come to Merced," said Mayor Ellie Wooten.
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Merced is a community of 80,000 people and is home to UC Merced. From its vibrant downtown core to its lush residential neighborhoods, Merced is a bike-friendly town laced with miles of bike paths and bike lanes.
"Each year, we have been able to make the Amgen Tour of California better," said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports, presenter of the race. "After getting input from riders and fans last year, we decided to expand the race to better showcase the state of California and this year we are so fortunate to be able to include Merced and bring this great sport to even more people throughout California. We are delighted to have such a great overall mix of cities partnering with us for the 2009 Amgen Tour of California and are pleased to include the eight new stops, along with so many of our old friends."
In its first three years, the Amgen Tour of California has become the most successful race in the United States with regards to attendance, economic benefits to the state, global recognition and the caliber of the cyclists participating. In 2008, the race drew 1.6 million spectators, continuing to set records for a single sporting event in the state of California, as well as any cycling event ever held on U.S. soil. Each year the race has generated $100 million in economic growth for the state.
"This year is a year of exciting firsts for us," Messick continued. "For the first time, the Amgen Tour of California will take place over nine days, we will make our first visit to the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada and visit San Diego County for what promises to be another exciting conclusion to the race."
The Amgen Tour of California kicks off the professional road cycling season each year and continues to draw some of the world's most renowned and respected riders, such as top Tour de France competitors, World Champions and Olympic medalists that include Tom Boonen, Paolo Bettini, Fabian Cancellara, George Hincapie, Oscar Freire and Bobby Julich. Winner of the 2007 and 2008 Amgen Tour of California, Santa Rosa resident Levi Leipheimer of the Astana team has had a strong season since his Amgen Tour of California victory earlier in the year and will next be representing the United States in the Olympic Games. "Winning the Amgen Tour of California has been a goal of mine from the beginning; no matter which races I compete in," said Levi Leipheimer. "This has always been a top priority for me."
Last month AEG, presenter of the race, formed a multi-dimensional marketing partnership with the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), owner of the Tour de France, to grow and develop each other’s events. Beginning with the 2008 Tour de France and 2009 Amgen Tour of California, the multi-year agreement calls for the organizations to develop and initiate comprehensive cross-promotional platforms for the world’s most prestigious cycling event and America’s most successful cycling race, as well as provide assistance with media and sponsorship sales for the races in their respective regions.
Returning for the fourth consecutive year as the title sponsor of the Amgen Tour of California, Amgen, a leading global biotechnology company with headquarters in Thousand Oaks, Calif., will continue to leverage the race to raise awareness and support for people affected by cancer through the Breakaway from CancerTM initiative. Amgen's invaluable support of the Amgen Tour of California has helped to ensure the race’s continued success and impact beyond the sporting arena.
"Sponsorship of the Amgen Tour of California has given Amgen the opportunity to educate people about the great advances in medicine made possible by biotechnology, and to strengthen our relationships with local communities, cancer support organizations and cancer survivors through our Breakaway from Cancer initiative," said George Morrow, Amgen’s executive vice president, Global Commercial Operations. "We look forward to another great race in 2009 and the opportunity to again lead the Breakaway from Cancer initiative to increase awareness of the support and educational resources available to help people living with cancer."
Having been sanctioned by the UCI (Union Cycliste International) and USA Cycling, the Amgen Tour of California has drawn the attention of both cycling enthusiasts and first-time spectators, making it one of the most anticipated events on the international cycling calendar.
Beginning with a road stage (a first for the race), which both starts and ends in Sacramento, through the grand finale in Escondido, the 2009 race will visit 16 host cities for official stage starts and finishes, while other cities along the route also will have the opportunity to witness the excitement of elite professional cycling. Stages for the 2009 Amgen Tour of California include:
• Stage 1: Saturday, Feb. 14 – Sacramento
• Stage 2: Sunday, Feb. 15 – Davis to Santa Rosa
• Stage 3: Monday, Feb. 16 – Sausalito to Santa Cruz
• Stage 4: Tuesday, Feb. 17 – San Jose to Modesto
• Stage 5: Wednesday, Feb. 18 – Merced to Clovis
• Stage 6: Thursday, Feb. 19 – Visalia to Paso Robles
• Stage 7: Friday, Feb. 20 – Solvang (individual time trial)
• Stage 8: Saturday, Feb. 21 – Santa Clarita to Pasadena
• Stage 9: Sunday, Feb. 22 – Rancho Bernardo to Escondido
For further information on the 2009 Amgen Tour of California, please visit www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
About the Amgen Tour of California
The largest cycling event in America, the 2009 Amgen Tour of California is a Tour de France-style cycling road race presented by AEG that challenges the world’s top professional cycling teams to compete along a demanding, recently expanded, 800-mile course from Sacramento to Escondido from February 14-22, 2009.
Amgen discovers, develops, manufactures and delivers innovative human therapeutics. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realize the new science's promise by bringing safe and effective medicines from lab, to manufacturing plant, to patient. Amgen therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other serious illnesses. With a broad and deep pipeline of potential new medicines, Amgen remains committed to advancing science to dramatically improve people's lives. To learn more about Amgen's pioneering science and vital medicines, visit www.amgen.com. To learn more about Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer initiative, visit breakawayfromcancer.com.
AEG 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, Sprint Center, The O2, NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE and NOKIA Theatre Times Square; sports franchises including the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), two Major League Soccer franchises, a Major League Lacrosse team, two hockey franchises operated in Europe, management of privately held shares of the Los Angeles Lakers, 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. For more information, visit AEG today at www.aegworldwide.com.