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Hincapie Takes Stage Two Win and Amgen Leader Jersey in San Jose

San Jose, CA February 21, 2006 – With the Amgen Tour of California on track to become the largest attended cycling event held on American soil as well as the most attended spectator sporting event in California history, American cyclist George Hincapie of Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team proved strongest in today’s grueling 95-mile mountain stage from Martinez to San Jose. With more than 150,000 fans lining the route, Hincapie captured the stage win and the overall Amgen Leader Jersey in the inaugural international professional cycling which launched February 19 and will continue daily through February 26.

Following three neutral laps through picturesque downtown Martinez, Mike Creed (USA) of Team TIAA-CREF broke away from the peloton nine miles into the race. After taking maximum points at the Union Bank of California King of the Mountain (KOM) climb up Happy Valley Road, San Jose native Ben Jacques-Maynes (KodakGallery.com-Sierra Nevada) and Credit Agricole’s Mads Kaggestad (NOR) bridged to create a dedicated break of three riders. The trio gained a maximum advantage of 5’50” before the Gerolsteiner and T-Mobile led field began to slowly reel in the escapees over the Calaveras Road Climb.

The race turned on the Category One climb to Sierra Road. The steep 3.5-mile road proved the ideal launching pad for the pre-race favorites. By the California Travel and Tourism KOM line, a new group of established a lead – race leader Levi Leipheimer, Floyd Landis (USA) of Phonak and California Travel and Tourism KOM competition leader Bernhard Kohl (GER) from T-Mobile. The three stretched their lead to 30 seconds on the descent before a chase group of 16 closed the gap. George Hincapie (USA) benefited from the work of his Discovery teammates Michael Barry (CAN), Jason McCartney (USA) and Tom Danielson (USA) and crossed the finish line ahead of Davitamon-Lotto riders Chris Horner (USA) and Josep Jufre Pou (ESP).

Finishing in fourth place, Gerolsteiner’s Levi Leipheimer (USA) lost his overall lead by 4” to Hincapie based on the 10” bonus for the win. With the top-five riders still within 13” of one another, the undulating Stage Three time trial held Wednesday on the outskirts of San Jose should give more definition to the overall classification.

We wanted to try to make the race hard with two climbs to go. But that climb was really hard,” said Hincapie following the stage. “Floyd and Levi are obviously very strong right now and I think they’ve done a lot of recon on the courses, they live here, so they probably  knew what to expect. I think they’re climbing a lot better than I was today. But I stayed close, I stayed with my teammates and I knew that one we got together it would be tough for anybody to beat me. It can down to a sprint and I was pretty confident that I could win it.”

“Amgen is so proud of George Hincapie’s breakaway moment when he sprinted across the finish line,” said Kathryn West, advocacy director, Amgen. “It was especially meaningful to present him with the Amgen Leader Jersey given his selfless efforts to raise awareness and support for people who are affected by cancer.”

Launched in December 2005 as a partnership between Amgen, The Wellness Community and George Hincapie, the Breakaway from Cancer initiative is a complementary component of Amgen’s title sponsorship of the Amgen Tour of California. The initiative includes a series of free workshops designed to help people who are affected by cancer learn about new treatments, side effects, support networks and educational resources.

In addition to taking the overall race lead, Hincapie also took the lead in the Clif Bar Sprint Competition and will wear the Clif Bar Sprint jersey during Stage Two. Kohn remains in the California Travel and Tourism King of the Mountain Jersey, while Tom Peterson (USA) of Team TIAA-CREF took the Union Bank Best Young Rider Jersey. American Mike Creed of Team TIAA-CREF earned the Adobe Most Aggressive Rider Jersey for his role in the breakaway.

“We continue to be thrilled with the tremendous support from the great California fans we have seen every day in record numbers,” said Shawn Hunter, President, AEG Sports, presenters of the Amgen Tour of California. “I truly believe that years from now, fans of this great sport will look back upon this event as a true moment of truth that played a significant role in the development of road cycling as a major sports competition. With records for largest-ever crowds for both a cycling race and an athletic event held in the state of California on track to be broken, we can easily witness first-hand the popularity of cycling to an incredibly broad and diverse group of all ages.”

For more full results, official times and archived footage, photos and play-by-play from today’s stage of the Amgen Tour of California, please visit the official race website at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com. For images from today’s stage and the week, please go to www.gettyimages.com. A one-hour race recap will be broadcast on ESPN2 tonight at
10 p.m. PST.

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