Bay Area's Levi Leipheimer is one of the early favorites to win this year's Amgen Tour of California.  The Santa Rosa resident, born in Butte, Montana, will be contending against stiff international competition in order win the premier cycling event.

A three time Tour of California winner, Leipheimer will be the undisputed leader of Team RadioShack, supported by teammates such as Chris Horner, who may try for a podium finish himself next to Leipheimer. 

Leipheimer is no stranger to tough international competition, recording top 10 finishes and stage wins at the Tour de France, in support of the top cyclists such Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador. 

Tour de France favorite Andy Schleck will be part of this year's field, but Leipheimer's main competition might be from David Zabriskie who finished second last year in the race only 9 seconds behind winner Michael Rogers.  Leipheimer himself finished third last year only 25 seconds Rogers, who won't be competing this year due to illness. 

The eight-stage race gets underway Sunday with a spectacular loop around Lake Tahoe.  However, the first stage is threatened by snow that may force race organizers to alter the route.

The Bay Area will be featured prominently in Stage Four, when the cyclists ride from Livermore to San Jose, including a steep hilltop finish on Sierra Road. 

Other Bay Area cyclists who will be participating in the race include twin brothers Ben Jacques-Maynes and Andy Jacques-Maynes, and Belmont's Bernard Van Ulden.