Race organizers of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California held a pre-race press conference in Sacramento on Saturday, May 14. Below are select quotes from riders, organizers, tv commentator Phil Liggett and city of Sacramento officials.
Lance Armstrong (USA) Team RadioShack
"The Amgen Tour of California is a big race for us. It's no secret that this is a huge priority for us. I might even take it a step further by saying it's second only to the Tour de France."
On the team's condition:
"Personally, I struggle to find the condition that I like. There have been moments I thought it was getting better. I like to think we're heading in the right direction. This is an event where you can truly test yourself. I do think it's a team sport and we bring a deep team.
On Tour predictions:
"Anything can happen at the Amgen Tour of California. We're excited. We're motivated. For me, it's good to be back with a great group of guys. But from the team's perspective, our best chance is Levi. We're going in with the sole purpose of supporting him. But it depends on what the road dictates. I'm happy to be here as a team rider."
On his emotional drive:
"My emotional drive is good. When you have bad days, as we all do, your drive takes a hit. If you asked what my emotional drive was after the Tour of Flanders, I would have said, 'I did a pretty good job for an old man.' I still believe that I can win the Tour de France."
On his condition:
"One thing I've tried to do is simplify my life. Life is hectic for me now. Professional cycling, four kids with a fifth on the way, all the travel. At the end of it all, people ask, 'How do you do that?' It's not something that I can easily do. I've tried to cut back as much as I can, but we have 50 days until the start of Tour de France, so I can't rest too much."
Levi Leipheimer (USA), Three-Time Defending Champion -- Team RadioShack
"There's a lot new about the Amgen Tour of California. It's taking place in May as opposed to February. The whole feeling about it is different because it's summertime. The riders of the peloton are much more fit. We're going higher in the mountains, in Big Bear. I'm looking forward to seeing exactly what happens that day."
"I've always said that riding into Santa Rosa with the world's best riders in my hometown is really special. It's not something that everyone gets to experience, especially wearing the Amgen Leader Jersey. It's an overwhelming experience."
"I'm ready for the race. Like the last few years, I'm ready to win."
"I've known Lance over the years. I know he's professional and I've seen him work for guys in the past. Someone who wins the greatest race in the world knows he can't do it without the team. When you have a teammate who can win the race and he has better form, you help him. That's the way cycling works. That's just the way it is."
George Hincapie (USA) BMC RacingTeam
"The new team has been great so far. We started the year with slight growing pains, being a new team. But the team's really gaining some momentum right now and we're hoping to continue that."
Fabian Cancellara (SUI) Team Saxo Bank
"This is my first race after my break. I'm happy to come back to this race but how good am I? I don't know. What I know for sure is I didn't have the best preparation for coming here. What's important is that I'm getting back. I think it's important that I am relaxed and I'm looking forward to this beautiful race. Hopefully the weather will stay the way it is."
"I have the energy that I need and the form to be in the top. The most important thing was to rest after the Classics. The team is strong."
Mark Cavendish (GBR) Team HTC-Columbia
"I'm excited to be here. We're a great team, this is a great race. We're looking forward to it."
Andy Schleck (LUX) Team Saxo Bank
"We arrived a few days ago, so hopefully we can get ready for the race. I heard there's a really hard climb ahead of us."
Dave Zabriskie (USA) -- Garmin-Transitions
"I'm looking forward to racing in my new hometown, Los Angeles. But I'd be looking forward to it regardless if I was a resident or not."
Andrew Messick, President, AEG Sports
"In our five years we've succeeded in becoming an increasingly exciting race on the international cycling calendar. We are giving cycling fans in the U.S. the opportunity to see the very best cyclists in the world."
"We are really happy that the sun is shining and our move to May has put us in the heart of the cycling season. It's also given us a chance to showcase new and more scenic parts of the state and give the fans of California blue skies and warm weather. We are continuing to work with our partners to craft an event that we think will be competitively challenging for the riders and exciting for the fans to watch. We have eight great days of racing and the best riders in the world with us."
Jim Birrell, Race Director, Amgen Tour of California
"We have 16 host cities that will let us grace their city with a worldwide audience. As we hit the streets of San Francisco and head down the coast of California, you will see that this year's Amgen Tour of California will be more challenging than previous years."
"We are heading to the home of L.A. LIVE and STAPLES Center where the time trial in Los Angeles will prove to be quite challenging compared to previous time trials. Then we'll move close to the home of Amgen for another decisive stage, Stage 8, the conclusion to the 2010 race."
Phil Liggett, VERSUS Announcer
"I felt it was a big gamble to move away from February. It was a way of testing the strength of the organization. Riders are not too willing to travel a long distance as they are preparing for the Tour de France. The big teams, the big riders always come to the Amgen Tour of California. This will be the fourth year VERSUS has broadcast the race. This year, VERSUS has strengthened its coverage. We're going live two hours every day. We're going out to every continent in the world. The Amgen Tour of California is on par with all of the great races in the world."
Stuart Arbuckle, Vice President & General Manager Oncology, Amgen, official race sponsor
"One of the reasons we became the title sponsor is to help explain what Amgen does. The title sponsorship allows us to tell our story. It allows the opportunity to create awareness for the Breakaway for Cancer initiative, which is a program we started on the first day of our sponsorship. Breakaway for Cancer is all about raising awareness about our non-profit partners that provide support from prevention to survivorship. Amgen was born in California, we're headquartered in California and we're proud to sponsor an event that showcases this beautiful state."
Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento
"We're very proud to be hosting this event again. The Amgen Tour of California is something we look forward to every year and the impact to our local economy is huge. The people of Sacramento are lucky to be able to participate in this event. There will be about 100,000 expected attendees and to be able to do this in the month of May, we'll see a much better turnout."
Roger Dickinson, Sacramento County Board of Supervisor's Chair
"The City of Sacramento is so pleased to have the Amgen Tour of California here for the fourth year in a row. We're especially happy to be in this partnership with Amgen and we hope our hospitality extends to all the cyclists and fans that are here to witness this great race."
"You really can't appreciate what world class cycling is all about just by watching it on television. And for a long time, we only had that opportunity. We now have the great opportunity for those who live in the Sacramento region to see this first hand and there's no comparison. Since last year we've all been in training for this year's event, in our own way. We know the tremendous benefit this brings to our region."