Defending Champion Levi Leipheimer in Twelfth Place after Hometown Stage
SANTA ROSA, CA - The second stage of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California brought excitement to the thunderous crowds at the finish in Santa Rosa, home to the BMC Racing and three-time defending champion Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Team RadioShack, who is currently in 12th place overall. After a challenging day of cycling through stormy conditions, Brett Lancaster (AUS) of Cervélo TestTeam took the stage win, as well as the overall lead in the General Classification.
Covering 109.5 miles/176.2 km and beginning in the city of Davis, which recently was named the best cycling town in the United States by Bicycling Magazine, the Stage 2 route included evenly spaced climbs and spectacular views. Proudly boasting no withdrawals after yesterday's crashes, the peloton gave the enthusiastic crowd in Davis something to cheer for as they lined up at the start. The stage began with a series of attacks with little result until mile 12 when the first break formed and included Karl Menzies (AUS) of UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis, Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) of Fly V Australia, Andrew Randell (CAN) of SpiderTech Powered by Planet Energy, Thomas Rabou (NED) of Team Type 1 and Michael Friedman (USA) of Jelly Belly Presented by Kenda. With the break of five riders, which would end up leading the race for the majority of the day, pulling away to create a minute-and-a-half gap over the pack, Menzies took the first sprint in Winters, followed by Rabou and Randell.
After 20 miles of flat roads while building a six-minute gap, the break headed into the first King of the Mountains (KOM) climb of the day, a short, but steep section leading to the Monticello Dam on Highway 128, and Rabou emerged victorious. Another long, flat section along Lake Berryessa, and the official feed zone, took the riders to their second climb up Howell Mountain Rd. (Cat. 2). Seizing the opportunity, Rabou attacked the break as Thomson and Friedman fell behind, but was soon caught by Menzies and Randell and the group of three crested the climb four minutes ahead of the peloton, with Rabou taking the KOM. Shortly after, the original breakaway of five reformed on the fast descent into Napa Valley.
"It didn't get cold at all today. There were many crowds, especially on the climbs, and that made me feel warm inside," said Rabou.
As the riders steadily approached the Oakville Grade (Cat. 3), the third KOM of the day, at 84.1miles/135.4 km and 1.9 miles long, Friedman once again dropped off the pace, leaving four riders to lead the breakaway. With weather conditions working against them, this proved to be a decisive climb for the riders, splitting apart the bunch with challenging circumstances and several crashes. With the end of the stage drawing near, a group of 12 riders, including Leipheimer, pulled away from the pack to form a chase group. After tackling the final KOM of the day, Trinity Grade (Cat. 2), the original break, the chase group and additional riders came together to form a lead group of approximately 25 riders, led by Team RadioShack. In a competition that came down to a very close finish in Santa Rosa, Lancaster took the stage win to the cheers of thousands of fans.
"In the rain, there are times when you just have to close your eyes and go for it. You just have to watch out for the white lines and the cat eyes on the road," said Lancaster. "Honestly, I didn't think I would be in the Amgen Leader Jersey, but today I felt fantastic. It was my special day."
After a long, hard day of racing, Lancaster claimed the Amgen Race Leader Jersey and the Herbalife Sprint Jersey. The Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey went to Peter Sagan (SVK) of Liquigas. Rabou, whose mother is currently battling cancer, took Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey and the California Travel & Tourism King of the Mountains (KOM) Jersey.
The top-three general classification leaders after today are Lancaster in first, Sagan in second and Menzies in third.
"Now that we have moved past the only day of rain anticipated for the 2010 Amgen Tour of California, we are looking forward to clear skies and beautiful weather for the rest of the race," said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports, presenter of the race. "Davis and Santa Rosa have been such great partners and the record crowds on the course today really prove the enthusiasm and appetite there is for professional cycling in California. We are looking forward to another great day tomorrow as we return to two iconic cities that really embody the spirit of the state - San Francisco and Santa Cruz."
Continuing its partnership for the fifth year, Amgen utilizes the race to raise awareness for the Breakaway from Cancer® initiative.
"For nearly 30 years, Amgen has tapped the power of pioneering science and innovation to discover and develop vital medicines," said Stuart Arbuckle, vice president and general manager, Amgen Oncology. "That's why Amgen is proud to sponsor the Amgen Tour of California and to continue the Breakaway from Cancer initiative as a vehicle to raise awareness of the important resources available to people affected by cancer - from prevention through survivorship."
Amgen created the national Breakaway from Cancer initiative in 2005 as a complementary component to its sponsorship of the inaugural Amgen Tour of California. Through Breakaway from Cancer, Amgen and its four nonprofit partners are dedicated to empowering patients with education, resources and hope.
Today's activities featured cancer survivor Sharon Cucinotta who fired the official start gun to begin the ride from Davis to Santa Rosa, and cancer survivor Miss Sonoma County Alison Levie had the honor of awarding Rabou with Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider Jersey.
For access to resources or to learn more, visit www.breakawayfromcancer.com.
STAGE 3 TOMORROW:
Tuesday, May 18 - San Francisco to Santa Cruz (113.3 mi/152.3 km)
Start Time: 11:15 a.m. PT
Estimated Finish Time: 3:30-4 p.m. PT
Starting at Ocean Beach, Stage 3, sponsored by The Home Depot, will cover nearly 120 miles from San Francisco, which hosted the Prologue for the inaugural year of the Amgen Tour of California, to Santa Cruz. The route will take the riders south down the California coastline on Highway 1, flanked by the picturesque backdrops of the Pacific Ocean on one side and Redwood forests on the other. This coastal stage will include three long, but moderate climbs on Tunitas Creek Rd., La Honda Rd. and Bonny Doon Rd., which will all be followed by lengthy and fast descents. The sprint to the finish will follow W. Cliff Dr. along Monterey Bay to an exhilarating conclusion to Stage 3 at the world famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
For full results, archived footage, GPS data, course information, race play-by-play and more, please visit the official race website at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
In addition to the website, fans can view the race on the daily VERSUS broadcasts. Stage 3 will air live on VERSUS tomorrow at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET.
Photo credit - CorVos