AEG Sports, presenter of the Amgen Tour of California, hoped that moving the eight-day, 800-mile race to May would help attract marquee talent. The organization may have been right.
AEG announced the 16-team lineup for 2010 on Tuesday, and it looks like the strongest in the Tour of California's five years.
The starting line will include UCI ProTour and Pro Continental teams such as 2009's No. 1-ranked HTC-Columbia, featuring top-rung sprinter Mark Cavendish; Team Saxo Bank, with Tour of Flanders winner Fabian Cancellara and Tour de France runner-up Andy Schleck; Liquigas Doimo, a promising young Italian team; Garmin-Transitions; and BMC Racing Team, boasting current U.S. Pro champion George Hincapie.
Of course, front and center will be the new Team RadioShack featuring Santa Rosa resident and three-time defending champion Levi Leipheimer, as well as seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.
All in all, the field of 128 riders will be both diverse and accomplished, preserving the Tour of California's place as the top stage race in the United States.
"These teams, with the riders we expect to compete, represent one of the strongest fields we have had at the Amgen Tour of California. Our move to May means that we will have Tour de France contenders in prime form racing here in the Golden State," Andrew Messick, president of AEG, said in a prepared statement. "We also are pleased to have a selection of top North American-based Continental teams, who will have a chance to compete with some of the world's best riders."
Rounding out the lineup are Rabobank, Bissell, Cerv?o TestTeam, Fly V Australia, Jelly Belly, Kelly Benefit Strategies, Quick Step, SpiderTech, Team Type 1 and UnitedHealthcare.
The 2010 Tour of California runs from May 16-23, beginning in Nevada City and ending in the western San Fernando Valley. Stage 2 finishes in downtown Santa Rosa on May 17.