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Stage is set for 2009 Amgen Tour

Stage One of the 2009 Tour of California will enter Santa Rosa via Calistoga Road on Feb. 15 and finish with three circuit laps downtown, announced Raissa de la Rosa of the city?s economic development and housing department Monday.

The Santa Rosa finish will mark the historic beginning of the comeback of seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. Stage One originally was to take place in Sacramento but two weeks ago Sacramento?s role was changed, said del la Rosa.

Sacramento now will host a Prologue, a time-trial event that determines who wears the yellow jersey of the leader.

?So this will be Lance?s first stage finish in America since he retired three years ago,? de la Rosa said. ?And it will be in Santa Rosa. Given his stature in cycling and that cycling is an international event, this is huge.?

Armstrong will be competing for Astana that also will feature the top rider from 2008, Alberto Contador, as well as Santa Rosa?s Levi Leipheimer. The three racers are arguably the three best in their sport.

The number of riders has not been announced, as Amgen plans to make the rider list public sometime in the next few weeks. A total of 167 riders competed in the 2008 Tour of California.

?Santa Rosa also will host the Women?s Criterium from 1-2 p.m. on Feb. 15. A criterium is a race on a closed short distance course (in this case .7 mile).

Initially, there was to be three cities that hosted a Women?s Criterium, but San Jose and Sacramento eventually were dropped.

The 2009 race will be the fourth Tour of California and Santa Rosa has hosted a Stage One finish each year.

Stage One will begin at noon on Feb. 15 in Davis and head west on Highway 128, through Winters, leaving Highway 128 at Spanish Flat Woodlands, onto Knoxville Berryessa Road along the western flank of Lake Berryessa.

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