Armstrong, Leipheimer commit to longer, harder Amgen tour

The four top cyclists in America on Thursday committed to riding in the the Amgen Tour of California, which will end a stage in Santa Rosa for the fifth time in the premiere race's five-year history.

"They are not only the greatest American riders, they are among the greatest riders racing," said Michael Roth, vice president of AEG Sports, the tour organizer.

The four who announced their intentions on Twitter are seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, three-time Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie and Dave Zabriskie.

"I've decided to ride the Amgen Tour of California in 2010. Can't wait," Armstrong wrote on Twitter.

"2010 Amgen Tour of California — I will be there as national time trial champ," Zabriskie wrote.

Organizers also said Santa Rosa has shown it deserved to be part of the race again.

"Its beautiful, the roads are good, there is great riding, there a lot of people who ride, people appreciate riding, it is everything you would like," Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports, said Thursday. "You will find that Santa Rosa is a pretty special place."

Details were released Thursday morning of the race, which will be held in May instead of February to take advantage of better weather. The race also has been shortened from nine days to eight, though the mileage will be greater.

It includes the first mountain stage in the race's history, a demanding climb in the southern Sierra that is followed by a day of time trials.

The intent, Messick said, is to make the race more difficult and a way for the cyclists to measure their preparation for the Tour de France about five weeks later.

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