SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (AP) – Levi Leipheimer will have to fend off a strong international field of Tour de France contenders and world champions to win his fourth overall title in the Tour of California.
The Butte, Mont., rider has won six stages, held the race lead for 22 days and won the overall title three consecutive years beginning in 2007.
The weather-threatened 800-mile race is scheduled to start Sunday with a 118.7-mile loop around Lake Tahoe that will finish at Northstar at Tahoe Resort.
The 37-year-old Leipheimer, riding for Radio Shack, was third last year, 25 seconds behind Australia’s Michael Rogers.
This year, Leipheimer was third overall in the Vuelta a Andalucia and eighth in the Paris-Nice.
Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck, second the past two years in the Tour de France; American Dave Zabriskie, second in the Tour of California last year; and four other top-10 Tour of California overall finishers from 2010 are entered in the sixth annual event.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)