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Inaugural Amgen Tour of California Women’s Criterium Announced

February 1, 2008 (Los Angeles, CA) — Adding to the excitement generated throughout the last two years in Santa Rosa, the state of California and throughout the international cycling community by the most successful cycling race in the United States, AEG has announced details of the inaugural Amgen Tour of California Women’s Criterium presented by the Redwood Regional Breast Center. Using portions of the Stage 1 men’s finishing circuit in Santa Rosa, the newest addition to the National Racing Calendar (NRC) promises to be an exciting and historic event for racers and fans alike. As the season opening NRC event, the Women’s Criterium will pave the way for similar races to be included in U.S. professional men’s road cycling races.

“The Amgen Tour of California Women’s Criterium, a race within a race, is the ideal way to launch and showcase this exciting new edition to our schedule of events, while presenting these great women cyclists to the tens of thousands who will see them along the route in downtown Santa Rosa. I am proud to be the race director of the event’s inaugural edition,” said Laura Charameda, race director, Amgen Tour of California Women’s Criterium. “Even cycling’s top events, such as the Tour de France, have women’s events that attract the top female cyclists from around the world. The Amgen Tour of California Women’s Criterium has the potential to emerge into such an event with international athletic importance.”

As a new component to the 2008 Amgen Tour of California professional road cycling race, the Women’s Criterium will bring the thrill of professional women’s cycling to fans in the hours before the men’s finish in downtown Santa Rosa. Held in conjunction with Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California on Monday, Feb. 18, the Women’s Criterium will consist of a field of 125 riders competing for more than $10,000 in prizes. Back to defend her title is the 2007 NRC Overall Individual Winner, Laura Van Guilder of the Cheerwine Women’s Professional Cycling Team. Set as a category Pro 1,2 race and with a limit of eight riders per team, the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Criterium will showcase some of the world’s top professional women’s cycling teams.

“The 2008 NRC calendar has done a great job of stepping up and meeting the rise in popularity and talent in the women’s peloton, and the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Criterium is the perfect headliner event,” said Anna Lang, professional cyclist, Aaron’s Pro Women’s Cycling Team. “The promoters have done a great job of course selection and ensuring a good turnout of the top teams. This event will be a good preview of the season.”

“When the city officials and Local Organizing Committee heard that Santa Rosa had been chosen for this very special event, we were elated and immediately set to work to roll out the red carpet and give a warm Santa Rosa welcome to these elite athletes,” said Maureen McElroy, co-chair of the Santa Rosa (local) Organizing Committee. “Our city is very proud to be an alumni city for the third straight year and to be selected for yet another expanded role in the Amgen Tour of California.”

America’s most successful cycling race, the Amgen Tour of California, is an eight-day “rolling festival” through California that has in its first two years already become one of the nation’s largest and most recognized annual sports events. This international, world-class cycling road race features 17 elite professional teams and athletes from around the world, competing for the highest prize purse of any cycling race in North America. The Amgen Tour of California will bring the drama and excitement of a professional cycling stage race to the California coast for a third year in 2008, from Feb. 17-24.

“We are proud to present the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Criterium, which will celebrate the athleticism and grace of women’s professional cycling,” said Kristin Bachochin, senior director of AEG Sports, presenter of the race. “This race will bring together some of the finest competitors in women’s professional cycling, and we are thrilled to add this component to the United States’ most successful cycling race.”

“Watching these top-notch athletes compete is going to be an exciting part of the day’s activities, and the Redwood Regional Breast Center is very proud to be a part of it,” said Shahab Dadjou, CEO of the Redwood Regional Medical Group. “This event is becoming a unique part of the community and it needs local businesses to step up and become involved to remain viable. It’s only natural that our Breast Center — located just a few blocks away from the course – lead the way and support the first women’s cycling race on the National Racing Calendar.”

For more information about the inaugural Amgen Tour of California Women’s Criterium, please visit www.amgentourofcalifornia.com

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