Armstrong, Levi Getting Closer to Finish

Tour de France winners Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis will be among the more than 100 elite riders who will finish the 800-
mile, 2009 Amgen Tour of California bicycle race Sunday in Escondido.

The eighth and final stage of the race begins in Rancho Bernardo at noon Sunday. The racers will pedal up the 5,123-foot Palomar Mountain, then race to the finish in downtown Escondido.

Cyclists are expected to cross the finish line at Grand Avenue and Broadway between 3:30 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. Sunday, according to race organizers.

Two-time defending Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer retained the overall lead heading into stage 5 of the race Thursday, which winds its way from Visalia to Paso Robles in central California.

Armstrong, 37, who retired from competitive racing in 2005 after winning the Tour de France an unprecedented seven straight times, recently announced a comeback and was in fourth place on Wednesday.

His comeback got off to a rocky start when one of his $10,000 bicycles was stolen Saturday from a trailer being used by his team in Sacramento. The distinctive black and yellow bicycle was returned to police by an unidentified man on Wednesday. Two of the team's other bikes were still missing.

Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title after testing positive for a synthetic form of testosterone, is racing competitively for the first time since serving a two-year suspension for doping.

Bike Race Finish With Much Fanfare:

Fans of the Amgen Tour of California will find more than a bicycle race Sunday in North County.

Activities ranging from a beer garden at the summit of Palomar Mountain to a children's fair at the finish line in Escondido are planned in conjunction with the race, which begins at noon in Rancho Bernardo.

For a complete list of activites visit

Viewing Suggestions:

There is a more direct route to travel from Rancho Bernardo to Escondido, but the final stage takes the world's best cyclists on the scenic route to Palomar Mountain.
Start line: On Bernardo Center Drive near Bernardo Plaza Court will feature Autograph Alley with food and entertainment.
Palomar Mountain: Pat Brown is calling for temperatures in the low 60's.  The climb covers nearly 12 miles at a seven-percent grade with 21 switchbacks.
Lake Wohlford: You can see the riders twice, coming and going.
Along the finish in Escondido.  A lifestyle festival is planned along Grand Ave. near the finish at Broadway.
The finish is estimated to be sometime between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Expect Delays, Road Closures

Some downtown Escondido streets near the Tour of California's finish line will be closed for the race, and other roads along the route will be closed just long enough to let cyclists pass.

Go to or a full list of closures.

Sprinter and Breeze Bus Services:

The North County Transit District will run extra service on the Sprinter to get fans to and from Escondido to see the racers cross the finish line.

The finish line is about a six-block walk from the Sprinter station at the Escondido Transit Center.

Trains are scheduled to run both directions every half hour until approximately 7 p.m. In addition to regularly scheduled Sprinter trains, the 6:03 p.m. westbound train from Escondido Transit Center and the 7:03 p.m. from the Oceanside Transit Center will operate.

A day pass on the Sprinter costs $5 and includes unlimited rides all day long on the Sprinter and Breeze bus system. A single trip (or one-way) ticket is just $2 and are half priced for seniors age 60 and over.

All tickets can be purchased from ticket vending machines at the Sprinter stations with cash or credit cards.

Throughout the weekend, several Escondido Breeze bus routes will experience detours due to road closures and riders can expect delays due to traffic congestion and heavy pedestrian presence in the area. The following routes are affected: 350, 351/352, 354, 356, and 388/389.
All bus stops on Grand Ave. between Center City Parkway and Juniper St. will be closed during the event. There will be special event bus stops located on 2nd Ave. at Escondido Blvd. and Broadway for patrons traveling east into Escondido. All bus stops on Valley Parkway will remain open during the event.

Complete schedule and route information is available on every Breeze bus and complete Sprinter and Breeze schedules are available on NCTD's website at

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