Some of the cycling world's biggest winners will be rolling across the line in South Lake Tahoe on Sunday to begin the eight-day 2011 Amgen Tour of California.
Organizers released the rosters for the 18 teams on Wednesday, and it includes a host of Tour de France podium finishers, stage winners, and World and National Champions.
Last year's winner, Michael Rogers of HTC-Columbia, will be unable to defend his title due to illness. Three-time Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) of Santa Rosa will attempt to add a 2011 trophy to his crowns from 2007, 2008, and 2009.
Tour de France vets
Although the major pro cycling teams also are competing at the Giro d'Italia during three weeks in May, most are staffed deep enough to share plenty of talent between squads competing in the U.S. and Italy.
The Tour de France podium finishers at the Tour of California are Leipheimer (3rd, 2007) and Andy Schleck (2nd in 2008 and 2009).
These previous Tour de France stage winners (followed by number of wins) are surely to be on the short list of cyclists favored to win the bike race that rolls out from May 15-22:
Thor Hushovd (Norway), Garmin Cervelo – 8
George Hincapie (US), BMC Cycling – 4
Oscar Freire (Spain), Rabobank – 4
Leipheimer – 2
Schleck – 2
David Zabriskie (US), Garmin – 1
Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Norway), Sky – 1
Linus Gerdemann (Germany), Leopard-Trek – 1
Rubens Bertogliati (Switzerland), Team Type – 1
Haimar Zubeldia (Spain), Radio Shack – 1
Baden Cooke (Australia), Saxo Bank – 1
Follow this link to view the entire roster for the 2011 Amgen Tour of California.