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16 teams set for inaugural Tour of California
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.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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