Organisers of the Amgen Tour of California have confirmed the inclusion of eight ProTour squads in the 2009 event, which takes place over Feburary 14-22.

Ag2r, Astana, Garmin-Slipstream, Liquigas, Quick Step, Rabobank, Columbia and Saxo Bank will all field teams in the stage race.

Lance Armstrong has already confirmed that he will play a part in the Astana line-up, and his presence at the race has undoubtedly cemented interest from other ProTour teams. He joins defending champion Levi Leipheimer (pictured).

“We have a great roster of top athletes, and the Amgen Tour of California delivers a great stage on which to perform,” said Bob Stapleton of Team Columbia.

“The Amgen Tour of California is great for the sport of cycling in the US and great for the sport overall.”

At present, Columbia has not confirmed whether its British sprinter Mark Cavendish will be part of its team at the event. However, given the status of the race in the States – home to the team’s main sponsor – it is likely that its star rider will be in attendance, as he was in 2008.

The 2009 edition of the Tour of California is the fourth time the race has been run. The race now features nine stages, starting in Sacramento on February 12 and finishing in San Diego County on February 22.

The Tour of California is America’s largest stage race, and last year attracted an estimated 1.6 million spectators to the road side as they watched Leipheimer ride to victory. Britain’s David Millar (Garmin-Slipstream) came second.

2009 TOUR OF CALIFORNIA: STAGES

Saturday, February 14 Prologue Sacramento

Sunday, February 15 Stage one Davis-Santa Rosa

Monday, February 16 Stage two Sausalito-Santa Cruz

Tuesday, February 17 Stage three San Jose-Modesto

Wednesday, February 18 Stage four Merced-Clovis

Thursday, February 19 Stage five Visalia-Paso Robles

Friday, February 20 Stage six Solvang ITT

Saturday, February 21 Stage seven Santa Clarita-Pasadena

Sunday, February 22 Stage eight Rancho Bernardo-Escondido

RELATED LINKS

Tour of California 2008: photo gallery

EXTERNAL LINKS

Amgen Tour of California official website