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The fourth annual Amgen Tour of California (AToC) began on Saturday with best field of riders for a US race in the past 20 years. Yes, Lance was here, but so was Olympic and World Champion Fabian Cancellara, sprint phenom Mark Cavendish, double Paris-Roubaix winner Tom Boonen, Giro d'Italia champion Ivan Basso, Levi Leipheimer, Floyd Landis, three-time World champion Michael Rogers, US National Champions Tyler Hamilton and Dave Zabriskie, etc, etc, etc.

 

Not surprisingly, Fabian Cancellara duplicated his win from last year in the prologue with Levi Leipheimer and Dave Zabriskie rounding out the top three. Lance Armstrong met his pre-prologue goal of finishing in the top ten, but with time gaps in the tenths of second, this 2.4 mile test just wetted everyone's appetite and did little to determine who will be the overall victor come next Sunday.

 

Threat of poor weather may dampen the next few days racing, but a crowd estimated at 50-100,000 was all cheers as the race wove its course around the Sacramento state capitol building.  Below is a photo essay, of sorts, of the happenings during the prologue.

 

Phil Zajicek of the Flying V Australia presented by Successful Living Foundation team was the second of 136 riders to start.  Here he concentrates on his pre-ride preparation.

 

Team Saxobank rider Fabian Cancellara gets ready to fire out of the start house on his  race-winning ride.

 

After a three year absence from racing, Lance Armstrong turns his first pedal in anger on US soil.

 

Floyd Landis had lots of support from fans in Sacramento.

 

Yes, there were a few celebrity sightings as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dr. McDreamy helped hand out the awards.

 

In case you needed proof that Lance Armstrong is one of the most tested cyclists, here is the list of riders, by race number, for anti-doping control.  This is Lance's 19th test since he announced his comeback. He wears bib #2.

 

Bruce

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