|Lance Armstrong's former Discovery Channel team is among 16 teams confirmed as participants in the inaugural Amgen Tour of California set for Feb. 19-26. |
The Tour de France-style professional stage race from San Francisco to Redondo Beach will be split between teams that compete in Europe and those who race mostly in the United States.
The 600-mile course will visit 10 host cities for official stage starts and finishes. They are: San Francisco, Sausalito, Santa Rosa, Martinez, San Jose, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Thousand Oaks and Redondo Beach.
Amgen Inc., a Thousand Oaks-based biotechnology company, is the world's leading producer of synthetic versions of a hormone called erythropoietin or EPO. The drug, intended for kidney and cancer patients, has been abused by athletes to increase the count of oxygen-rich red blood cells.
EPO is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Blood doping made headlines at the 1998 Tour de France after several team doctors and other personnel were caught with thousands of doses of EPO.
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