Sights and Sounds from AToC Kick-off Press Conference

Posted on 12. May, 2012 by in race

Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek), Defending Amgen Tour of California Champion

Chris Horner (Radioshack Nissan)

Chris Horner (Radioshack Nissan)

On being the 2011 Amgen Tour of California winner. “It was a great win here in California. It has been amazing what it has done to my career overall. Additionally, people have started to recognize me off the bike which has certainly expanded knowledge of me and their expectations.”

On his 2012 team. “The course is a little less ideal for my type of rider, but it also is the hardest course. I will miss the Sierra stage. I came here with a strong team and I am looking forward to Mt. Baldy.”

Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Three-time Amgen Tour of California Champion

Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)

Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)

On the start taking place in Santa Rosa. “I remember the day we had the press conference in San Francisco. It was the fall of 2005 where we were announcing there would be a tour in California. I remember dreaming of that race that would one day assemble in Santa Rosa, and now seven years later, here we are. It has been phenomenal to watch the race develop and I am so proud to be a part of that in a lot of ways. Our community as a whole has made some stars and inspired the next generation of athletes and I am really proud of the race and our community who have worked really hard to make this possible.”

On his current health and his recent injury. “My leg is a different story that has gone on too long. Some days are better than others. Recovery is not as good as you would hope, but in the end, there is not a whole lot that you can do. It’s been a trying five and a half weeks. All I can say is in the end is — I go to frustration, to suffering, to hurting, to feeling sorry for myself, to at least I am here able to enjoy life and this race. I have to keep reminding myself of that.”

On making his decision on competing this year. “The thought of me not starting here in Santa Rosa; working along with so many great people to make a win happen, it just kills me. It’s important that I show the team that I would not be a burden or a weak link because it’s not fair to them. I wanted to show my team that I am here to compete. I am very relieved and happy to say that I will start in this race.”

On whether his injury is a pain issue or performance issue. “It’s more a performance issue; an injury like this pretty much shuts the leg off. I’m operating with less than 100 percent of power. I’ve worked really hard and I am really sick of icing my leg. With this in mind, I am just so happy to be a part of the event here in Sonoma County.”

On racing for fitness or to win. “I’ve got to be realistic, it wasn’t just broken, the bone was apart. I have only been training for two weeks but as professional athletes we were taught and engrained to reach for the stars. I’ve got to be realistic that I have not been training that much and it has taken me a lot of hard work to get where I am now after my injury. You should not count on me for the overall.”

the coveted Amgen Tour of California yellow leader's jersey

the coveted Amgen Tour of California yellow leader's jersey

Tejay van Garderen (BMC)

Tejay van Garderen (BMC)

Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team)

On what it’s like to be on the home team. “It’s really special. I’ve just got to see the BMC service course and its right next door to a brewery.”

On his team makeup and their approach this year . “We have a strong and well-rounded team of some climbers and “all-rounders” that will give [Tom] Boonen a little trouble in some of the sprints. I personally plan to do my best to achieve the highest overall.”

On his thoughts for the upcoming Olympic team selection. “I don’t know what the criteria are. There is a selection committee where they choose the best riders. I would think that the committee is diverse enough where there isn’t any favoritism and they will select the best team to win the medals and represent the U.S.A.”

Leipheimer, Horner and Danielson laugh after a question

Leipheimer, Horner and Danielson laugh after a question

Tom Danielson (Garmin-Barracuda)

Tom Danielson (Garmin-Barracuda)

Tom Danielson (Garmin-Barracuda)

On his thoughts for the development of the Amgen Tour of California. “Amgen Tour of California has always been a big event for all of the teams I have been on. ATOC has always been a huge goal to compete in. I’ve seen the race develop over the years and has been a turning point in my career; it has given me the opportunity to stand up with my idols and be on the podiums. I’m really thankful for this race.”

On his 2012 team. “This is a really huge priority for Garmin-Barracuda . We’ve been on the podium but never in a position to win overall. We have a fantastic team; we have a bunch of good riders.”

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), No. 2- ranked rider in the world (UCI)

Vincenzo Nibali (Lquigas-Cannondale)

Vincenzo Nibali (Lquigas-Cannondale)

On his thoughts for not competing in the Giro d’Italia. “Yes, this is my second trip to the Amgen Tour of California. It is difficult for an Italian to not compete in the Giro d’Italia. However, it is important for me to do my best and compete in this race. So I have to do it.”

On his memories from 2009. “I have some great memories competing here in California. It may not be easy, but I hope to do my best in this coming competition.”

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharam-Quick Step)

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharam-Quick Step)

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), No. 1-ranked rider in the world (UCI)

On his team prepping for the 2012 race. “Most of the riders here are coming out of their rest period. This is the first competition out of the classics. We have only great memories here in California and the tour is very nice. I believe we will have three or four stages that suit me and not just two.”

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