Union Democrat staff

Sixteen professional cycling teams will ride through Sonora in May as part of the Amgen Tour of California.

Tour organizers announced Tuesday the list of teams that will compete in the annual cycling competition, which draws some of the top competitors in the world. Of those scheduled to compete, 11 are returning as Amgen Tour veterans.

According to organizers, the teams include Radio Shack-Nissan-Trek,

with a roster of defending Amgen champion Chris Horner, U.S. road race

champion Matthew Busche and Jens Voigt; top-ranked Omega

Pharma-QuickStep, which features three-time Tour of California winner

Levi Leipheimer and Tom Boonen; 2011 Tour de France champion BMC

Racing, with cycling veteran George Hincapie and Tejay van Garderen;

and Garmin-Barracuda, featuring Amgen tour veterans Tom Danielson and

Dave Zabriskie.

The teams represent more than 20 countries and include cyclists

preparing for the 2012 Tour de France and Summer Olympics in London.

"These 16 teams represent the most prestigious field of talent ever

to compete in our race and we are honored to have them join us," race

executive director and senior vice president of AEG Sports Kristin

Bachochin stated in a release. "Cycling fans will see some favorite and

familiar faces back in California this May, as well as a few new teams

who will be racing with us for the first time."

Sonora was chosen to be one of this year's host cities for the

biggest cycling race in the country. The race teams will start their

fourth of eight stages from Washington Street on May 16 and face a

130-mile stretch down Highway 49 through Moccasin, Coulterville and

Mariposa before ending the day at Clovis in Fresno County.

This year's Tour of California will begin May 13 in Santa Rosa.

Competitors will travel more than 750 miles in eight days before

finishing in Los Angeles on May 20.

The complete 2012 Amgen Tour of California includes UCI Pro Teams

BMC Racing Team, Rabobank Cycling Team, Garmin-Barracuda,

RadioShack-Nissan-Trek, Liquigas-Cannondale, Omega-Pharma-QuickStep,

AG2R La Mondiale and GreenEDGE Cycling Team; UCI Professional

Continental Teams Spidertech Powered By C10, United Healthcare Pro

Cycling Team, Project 1t4i and Columbia-Coldeportes; UCI Continental

Teams Optum Presented By Kelly Benefit Strategies, Bissell Pro Cycling,

Team Exergy and Bontrager Livestrong Team.

For more information about the tour and the Sonora stop, visit AmgenTourofCalifornia.com or atocsonora.com.