Tour of California announced teams - Boonen will start

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18.01.2008/ A world-class field of 17 domestic and international cycling teams set to compete in the 2008 Amgen Tour of California was announced by AEG, owners and presenters of the upcoming cycling road race. Star riders like Tom Boonen, George Hincapie and defending champ Levi Leipheimer will start at this years edition.

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Tom Boonen will start at the Tour of California (© Cyclingheroes)

Team CSC, the world’s No. 1-ranked cycling team; Toyota-United, Rabobank, Tom Boonen's Quickstep, 2007 Amgen Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer's new team, Astana; and Health Net presented by Maxxis, winner of USA Cycling’s 2007 National Race Calendar, will lead some of the world’s top cycling teams in the third annual race. The 650-mile, eight-day stage race, modeled after the Tour de France and considered to be the most important and popular race held on U.S. soil, will take the world’s top professional cycling teams from Palo Alto-Stanford University to Pasadena from February 17-24.

World class riders like Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie and Tom Boonen will start at this yeras Tour of California. After winning last years young riders classification with Dutch rider Robert Gesink, Rabobank will try to win the young riders classification again. In the Rabobank line-up for the Tour of California is 2007 Tour de l'Avenir winner Bauke Mollema. Gerolsteiner will start with Swiss veteran Markus Zberg. French climber Patrice Halgand will start with Credit Agricole.

"The success of the Amgen Tour of California over the past two years has created a very positive reputation among the professional cycling community, which has helped to ensure the high level of competition that people have come to expect from our race," said Kristin Bachochin, senior director of AEG Sports, presenter of the race. "This year, we designed an even more challenging course and secured an incredible line-up of teams that promise to keep the level of excitement high for the fans and riders alike."

Split between teams who compete on the UCI Pro Tour and those who race predominately in the United States, the field of 136 athletes will be one of the most diverse, accomplished groups of cyclists ever assembled for a stage race in the U.S.

"Even though the new Astana Cycling Team is making its U.S. racing debut, we are bringing numerous riders who have found success on U.S. soil in the past," said Philippe Maertens, spokesman for the Astana Cycling Team. "The riders are excited to begin the season in California and are motivated to help Levi Leipheimer defend his Amgen Tour of California title."

Along with Pro Tour teams, the growing class of top domestic teams will be represented by return competitors Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis, Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team, Jelly Belly Cycling Team and Bissell Pro Cycling Team, and new competitors Rock Racing and Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast.

"The Jelly Belly Cycling Team is very excited about being selected by the Amgen Tour of California to participate in this year's event," said Danny Van Haute, manager of the Jelly Belly Cycling Team. "This will be Jelly Belly's ninth season in the cycling community. The team is looking forward to the competition."

Several of the 17 professional cycling teams will hold their pre-season training camps in California, which will give residents throughout the state an opportunity to watch these elite athletes prepare for the top professional cycling race in the United States.

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Teams for 2008 Tour of California

Astana (LUX)

Bissell Pro Cycling Team (USA)

BMC Racing Team (USA)

Bouygues Telecom (FRA)

Crédit Agricole (FRA)

Gerolsteiner (GER)

Health Net Presented by Maxxis (USA)

High Road Sports (GER)

Jelly Belly Cycling Team (USA)

Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast (USA)

Quick Step (BEL)

Rabobank Cycling Team (Netherlands)

Rock Racing (USA)

Saunier Duval-Scott (ESP)

Team CSC (DEN)

Team Slipstream Powered by Chipotle (USA)

Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team (USA)

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