Santa Rosa, CA - Jeff Louder (USA) of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team got off the front early in the 2012 Amgen Tour of California and remained in the lead group for more than four hours and 32 minutes before being reeled in the final few minutes of an exciting opening stage in Santa Rosa, California. Louder's gutsy performance earned him a 3rd place standing in the General Classification in a stage that was won by Liquigas-Cannondale's Peter Sagan (SVK). Garmin-Barracuda's Heinrich Haussler (AUS) took second while Team Exergy's Fred Rodriguez (USA) who finished in third.
Louder's aggressive riding also enabled him to pick up both sprint victories on the day. General Manager and Team Director, Mike Tamayo, praised the effort from the Salt Lake City, Utah native and his Teammates.
"It was a great day for the Team," Tamayo said. "Our primary goal was to get a rider off the front and get early representation and Jeff did that for us really well. At one point it looked like he might have a shot at going to the finish line when the Pro Tour teams were looking around at each other and the break got out to more than 10 minutes. It was also good to see Rory, Marc and our top climbers climbing in the front group with no difficulties. It was a good day for the Team today, especially having UnitedHealthcare and so many of our sponsors here in Santa Rosa."
After spending more than four and one-half hours in the break today Louder spoke of his Herculean performance. "The goal for Team UnitedHealthcare was to get in the breakaway today and my number came up as the lucky guy to make it," Louder said. "When you're out there, you look for the opportunities on the road and fortunately I was able to win the sprints. We had a pretty good lead coming into the final climb and I thought the three of us (Louder, Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Pro Cycling) and Maxime Bouet (AG2R La Mondiale) - might be able to stick it to the end. We gave it our best but it wasn't quite enough."
Louder continued, "But it's Mother's Day today and it's also my wife's birthday, so I really wanted to try and show something to her just out of appreciation for everything she does for me. So, it was a good day for me and I'm happy to have been able to be out there for the Team."
The Team looks forward to tomorrow's 117 mile Stage 2 trek from San Francisco to Santa Cruz.
The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Roster for the 2012 Amgen Tour of California:
Rory Sutherland (AUS)
Marc de Maar (CUR)
Jeff Louder (USA)
Philip Deignan (IRE)
Jonny Clarke (AUS)
Jason McCartney (USA)
Brad White (USA)
Chris Jones (USA)