Three-time champion Levi Leipheimer heads Amgen Tour of California field
The preliminary start list for the 2011 Amgen Tour of California was released Wednesday morning and, as expected, three-time champion Levi Leipheimer of Team RadioShack will try to win back the title he lost last year to Australian Michael Rogers.
Leipheimer finished third last year.
The race, with 140 riders from 18 teams, begins Sunday at Lake Tahoe and ends May 22 with a stage from Santa Clarita to Thousand Oaks.
Besides Leipheimer, who finished third at the Tour de France in 2007, the other Tour de France podium finisher in the field is Andy Schleck, who finished second in 2009. Schleck, of Luxembourg, rides for the new Leopard Trek team, which withdrew from the Giro d'Italia on Tuesday after one of its riders, Wouter Weylandt, was killed in a crash during a descent Monday.
Besides Leipheimer and Schleck, there are nine other Tour de France stage winners in the field, including Americans George Hincapie (BMC Race Team) and David Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions).
Current U.S. national champion Taylor Phinney (Garmin-Transitions) is also scheduled to ride. Phinney is the son of former Olympians Davis Phinney and Connie Carpenter.
-- Diane Pucin
Photo: Levi Leipheimer rides during the time trial stage of the Tour de California in 2006. Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press