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Hincapie Wins Stage 5, Landis Maintains Lead

Santa Barbara, CA, February 24, 2006 – Following another day of crowds in the thousands and with the Amgen Tour of California on pace to set records in attendance for any single sporting event in California, as well as for any cycling event in the United States with more than 830,000 attendees to date, George Hincapie (USA) of the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team powered down the street to Santa Barbara and his second stage victory.

Thousands of spectators lined the course as the riders blazed out of San Luis Obispo at an average speed of almost 30 mph to begin the 105.3-mile course to Santa Barbara, and a bevy of attacks kept speeds high throughout the day. Two large breaks of ten riders were able to stay off the front of the field with maximum gaps of 45" respectively.

Shortly after the second large group was reabsorbed on the open and flat roads into Orcutt, four riders were able to slide off the front of the field to gain a significant advantage as the course turned toward hilly terrain in Santa Barbara County. The four-man group included German Jens Voigt (GER) of Team CSC, Sebastian Lang (GER) of Gerolsteiner, ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games time trial medalist Viatcheslav Ekimov (RUS) from Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, and American Nick Reistad (USA) from California-based Team Jelly Belly.

With Ekimov 5'20" down to Landis in the overall, Phonak allowed the four a maximum advantage of 3'20" and held the gap steady at approximately 3' to the Category 1 climb of San Marcos Pass Road. At 3.1 miles to the summit, the lead had shrunk to 1'33".

Halfway up the climb, Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Gerolsteiner and Ricardo Ricco (ITA) of Prodir-Saunier Duval joined the front group and established a 22" lead on the field at the summit of the KOM, with Leipheimer leading over the top of the climb. 40 riders regrouped on the descent. With a similar finishing dynamic to Stage Two, George Hincapie showed that he is one of the fastest men out of a select group by winning the sprint and taking his second stage in the Amgen Tour of California.

“We knew all the roads, and we knew the last climb really well. The team was really strong today. We've had a great week and have a lot of fun racing here,” said Hincapie.
“Amgen continues to seek out meaningful ways to communicate the progress we have made discovering and developing innovative and vital medicines that have helped millions of patients fight cancer, kidney disease and other serious illnesses,” said Jim Daly, senior vice president, North American commercial operations, Amgen. “Through the Amgen Tour of California sponsorship, we will raise awareness of the proper use of our medicines and the medical breakthroughs possible through biotechnology while partnering with The Wellness Community to further support cancer patients and caregivers.” 

Charity Ride Preview
Five hundred local residents and Amgen staff and their families will take part in the Breakaway from Cancer™ charity ride on Saturday, Feb. 25 – the same day that Stage Six
of the inaugural Amgen Tour of California rolls into Thousand Oaks from Santa Barbara.
“Breakaway from Cancer is an integral, complementary component of the Amgen Tour of California, and it benefits cancer patients across the country,” said Kathryn West, advocacy director, Amgen. “Amgen is proud to host the Breakaway from Cancer charity ride in our headquarters city and we look forward to joining members of the community to raise additional funds to help empower people with cancer so they can live well with the disease.”

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.

After his performance in today’s stage, Hincapie reclaimed the lead in the Clif Bar Sprint Competition and will wear the Clif Bar Sprint Jersey during Stage Six. The points awarded to Leipheimer for being the first rider over the San Marcos Pass puts him in the California Travel and Tourism King of the Mountain Jersey, while Tom Peterson (USA) of Team
TIAA-CREF remains in the Union Bank Best Young Rider Jersey. For his efforts in the day’s longest breakaway, 23-year-old Reistad earned the Adobe Most Aggressive Jersey.

“It’s clear that the race is taking on a momentum of its own; the crowd support on the road today was beyond anything we’ve seen yet,” said Shawn Hunter, president of AEG Sports, the presenters of the Amgen Tour of California. “From the start in San Luis Obispo and on through all of the towns along the course, people were out in the thousands to support the best cyclists in the world race to Santa Barbara.”

Stage Six tomorrow will bring the riders 89.5 miles from Santa Barbara to Thousand Oaks on their final day of distance racing, followed by a circuit day finale in Redondo Beach on Sunday. Tomorrow’s shorter stage with a hilly profile features four KOM climbs and finishes with three laps of a three-mile circuit in Thousand Oaks that will cover the stages’ final ten miles and finish at Amgen’s corporate campus.

For full results, official times, 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.

Amgen discovers, develops and delivers innovative human therapeutics.  A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realize the new science's promise by bringing safe and effective medicines from lab, to manufacturing plant, to patient.  Amgen therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other serious illnesses.  With a broad and deep pipeline of potential new medicines, Amgen remains committed to advancing science to dramatically improve people's lives.  To learn more about our pioneering science and our vital medicines, visit www.amgen.com.
AEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world.  AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Anschutz Corporation, owns or controls a collection of companies including facilities such as STAPLES Center, The Home Depot Center, The Manchester
Evening News Arena and NOKIA Theatre Times Square; sports franchises including the
Los Angeles Kings (NHL), five Major League Soccer franchises, two hockey franchises operated in Europe, management of privately held shares of the Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) and Los Angeles Sparks (WNBA) and the Amgen Tour of California cycling road race debuting in San Francisco on February 19th; AEG LIVE, the organization’s live-entertainment division, is a collection of companies dedicated to all aspects of live contemporary music performance, touring and a variety of programming and multi-media production.  Additionally, the company has begun fully developing the 28-acre Millennium Dome and adjacent property located in the eastern part of London along the Thames River and will create the O2, a new arena within the ‘Dome’ and additional arenas, on a 50-acre site in the heart of Berlin and Spring Center in Kansas City, Missouri; stadiums in Bridgeview, Illinois and Harrison,
New Jersey.  For more information, visit AEG today at www.aegworldwide.com