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For the first time, the final stage of the 2008 Amgen Tour of California was a point-to-point course from Santa Clarita to Pasadena where the race concluded with six circuits around the iconic Rose Bowl in front of a boisterous crowd that lined the streets despite cold, wet weather. A ten-man break initiated by Rock Racing's Mike Creed took off early in the stage with the right mix of riders, none of whom was a threat to the top of the GC. With Astana's Levi Leiphemier comfortably in the overall lead, the break's advantage grew, but never by more than a few minutes. The weather got worse as the riders approached the circuits around the Rose Bowl, which seemed to benefit the break. Bissell's Tom Zirbel, a gifted time trial rider, attacked the break and jetted on a solo flight. He managed to hold off the splintered chase group until the final lap. Creed, HealthNet's Rory Sutherland, CSC's Jason McCartney and High Road's George Hincapie countered and settled the day in a thrilling dash to the line. One of America's most popular riders, Hincapie claimed the top prize as winner of Stage 7, sponsored by Amgen. Hincapie won two stages at the first Amgen Tour of California two years ago.
When Leipheimer crossed the finish line safely, he became the first repeat winner of the Amgen Tour of California. Team Slipstream riders David Millar and Christian Vande Velde finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Stage 6 of the Amgen Tour of California, sponsored by HealthNet, departed Santa Barbara on a 105.4-mile/169.6-km trek to Santa Clarita that tested the peloton with four California Travel & Tourism King of the Mountains climbs and two Herbalife Sprints. With Levi Leipheimer comfortably adorned in the yellow leader's jersey, his well-drilled Astana squad manned the front of the peloton, allowing a non-threatening six-man break to escape early. The break managed to stay away until the second of three 3.5-mile finishing circuits. High Road, Quick Step, Rabobank and eventually Astana sparked the chase to save the day for their sprinters. It was a fast, electrifying field sprint with Saunier Duval-Scott's fastman Luciano Pagliarini scoring the win after High Road's Mark Cavendish was accessed a 20-second time penalty.Juan Jose Haedo (CSC) and World Champion Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) claimed 2nd and 3rd respectively. There was no change at the top of the overall standings.
The 2008 Amgen Tour of California concludes tomorrow with Stage 7, sponsored by Amgen. Leipheimer is poised to collect his second GC win here, but look for Team Slipstream and CSC to throw everything they can during the 93-mile/150-km stage from Santa Clarita to Pasadena's legendary Rose Bowl to swipe the yellow jersey from the defending champion. The course includes two Herbalife Sprints and a massive California Travel & Tourism KOM climb to the Millcreek Summit, the highest point ever reached in Amgen Tour of California history at 4,906 feet. We'll have all the action for you live starting at 12 PM PST with our pre-stage coverage beginning at 11:30 AM PST. I'm Rick Scott and we thank you for being with us today. Come back tomorrow for the dramatic conclusion of the 3rd Amgen Tour of California.
After a long, soggy day yesterday, the peloton welcomed sunshine and dry roads in Solvang for today's critical Amgen Tour of California Stage 5 time trial, sponsored by ADT. The day began with defending champion Levi Leipheimer in yellow, but 13 men were within 43 seconds, including time trial specialists David Millar, David Zabriskie and two-time World Time Trial Champion Fabian Cancellara. The 15-mile/24-km course was primarily flat with two small climbs. The reigning King of California asserted his dominance today by crushing the field with a time of 30:46, the only rider to complete the course in less than 31 minutes. British Time Trial Champion David Millar was 2nd in a time of 31:15 and his teammate, Christian Vandevelde, delivered a time of 31:31 to claim the last step of the podium. Leipheimer added to his GC lead as we head into tomorrow's Stage 6, sponsored by HealthNet.
Starting at 11 AM PST, the peloton will depart Santa Barbara en route to Santa Clarita, a 105.4-mile/169.6 km journey. Along the way, they will face four California Travel & Tourism King of the Mountains climbs, including the menacing ascent of Balcom Canyon, and two Herbalife Sprints. We'll begin our live coverage right here at 10:30 AM PST with play-by-play by me, Rick Scott, your eyes & ears at the 2008 Amgen Tour of California. You can watch the entire race here as well with commentators Frankie Andreu & Fantastic Joe Silva. Thank you for being with us today. Enjoy the rest of your Friday and we'll see you tomorrow.
Stage 4 from Seaside to San Luis Obispo of the Amgen Tour of California was an epic marathon that forced the riders to battle the elements along with hilly, technical terrain over 135 miles/218 kms along the magnificent Pacific Coast Highway. It rained the entire day and a nasty headwind combined with cold temperatures to make the Queen stage miserable for the peloton. A ten-man break escaped early and it eventually withered to eight riders while the Astana-led peloton, riding in support of race leader Levi Leipheimer, seemed content to let the break stay away. They dutifully manned the front for nearly 200 kms without any assistance from the other teams. A late attack from Toyota-United's Dominique Rollin shattered the break and everyone except for High Road's George Hincapie and Saunier Duval-Scott's Iker Camano were dropped and later caught by the CSC-driven field. The two rode in desperate pursuit of the young Canadian, but Rollin managed to hold them off to pocket the win solo after almost 7-and-a-half hours in the saddle. His Toyota-United remains the only domestic team to win a stage of the Amgen Tour of California. They have won at least one stage in all three editions of the race.
There were no changes at the top of the general classification today, but look for plenty of changes tomorrow. The crucial Stage 5 individual time trial starts at 12 PM PST in Solvang. The 15-mile/24-km primarily flat course will be a thrilling battle as time trial aces Fabian Cancellara, David Millar and David Zabriskie are within striking distance of Leipheimer, who is attempting to defend his Amgen Tour of California title. I'm Rick Scott and I'll be reporting live starting at 11:30 AM PST. You can watch the race live on our site as called by Frankie Andreu & Fantastic Joe Silva. Thank you for spending the day with us at the 2008 Amgen Tour of California. Have a great evening and we'll see you tomorrow. Don't miss it.
Stage 3 of the 2008 Amgen Tour of California, sponsored by the California Board of Tourism, lived up to the advance billing of being a feared monster. During the 103-mile/165-kms from Modesto to San Jose, the peloton faced no less than five King of the Mountains climbs, including the ascent of Mt. Hamilton (HR-above categorization at 4360 feet) and the category 1 Sierra Road, the last of which proved as decisive as it has been in previous editions of the race. Team Slipstream's Tyler Farrar started the day wearing the golden leader's jersey, but pulled out early after battling a case of food poisoning. Many courageous performances were on display as some of the best climbers in the world got their chance to shine. After the early four-man break was absorbed, the elite climbers came to the fore and it was game on. On Sierra Road, Astana riders, in support of defending race champion Levi Leipheimer, shattered the group with a menacing tempo. Eventually Leipheimer and last year's Best Young Rider, Robert Gesink of Rabobank, emerged and worked together to stay away on the long run into San Jose. Gesink took the win and puts on the Best Young Rider's jersey while Leipheimer dons his first golden leader's jersey this year.
Tomorrow's Stage 4, sponsored by Olevia, departs from Seaside on a glorious path down to San Luis Obispo. It's the Queen stage, the longest at 135 miles/218 kms. The riders will pedal along a scenic route over hilly and technical terrain adjacent to the majestic Pacific Coast Highway traveling through Big Sur and the Hearst Castle before turning inland for the finish in San Luis Obispo. There will be two Herbalife Sprints and three KOM climbs, but the day will likely be settled in a sprint. Catch all the action live right here starting at 10 AM PST. Our pre-race coverage begins at 9:30 AM PST. I'm Rick Scott, your eyes and ears at the Amgen Tour of California. Thank you for being with us.
The weather was miserable this morning in Santa Rosa when Stage 2 of the 2008 Amgen Tour of California rolled off in the hometown of defending race champion Levi Leipheimer. With CSC's Fabian Cancellara cloaked in the golden leader's jersey, the race faced a 116-mile/186-km ride in cold rain on the way to Sacramento. Four miles in, BMC's Scott Nydam flew the coop on a solo escapade that lasted over 90 miles. He snagged both KOMs and both Herbalife Sprint time bonuses along the way, but the teams of the sprinters worked together so they could have their day when they arrived at the finishing circuits in the state capital crowded with fans despite the dreary conditions. An attentive Tyler Farrar (Team Slipstream) snagged valuable time bonuses as well at the Herbalife Sprints, which vaulted him into the leader's jersey. After the peloton roared into town on the wet streets of Sacramento, Quick Step's Tom Boonen proved to have the fastest pair of wheels today in the final sprint after three downtown circuits to win his first stage at the Amgen Tour of California.
Tomorrow the race will change dramatically as the 102.7-mile/165.3-km route will be the first chance for the climbers and the true general classification rider to show themselves during Stage 3, sponsored by the state of California, which runs from Modesto to San Jose. There is one Herbalife Sprint early on, but the real damage will be done during five KOM climbs, including three category 4s, one above category on Mt. Hamilton, and one category 1 up Sierra Road, which has shattered the field in previous years. We'll be back with live coverage at 9:30 AM PST and the racing action begins at 10 AM PST. Join me, Rick Scott, for the play by play, and Frankie Andreu & Fantastic Joe Silva will be broadcasting video. Thank you for join us on the Amgen Tour of California website. See you tomorrow.
Stage 1 of the 3rd Amgen Tour of California witnessed a long, courageous breakaway from BMC's Jackson Stewart, a Santa Rosa resident, who escaped after 17 miles and was caught over 60 miles later by a supercharged peloton hungry to save the day for the sprinters.
The 97-mile/156-km ride from Sausalito to Santa Rosa featured three Herbalife Sprints and one category 3 King of the Mountains climb. Stewart pocketed all the prizes along the way before the peloton gobbled him up as they approached the finishing circuit in Santa Rosa. In the end, CSC's Juan Jose Haedo unleashed a fierce sprint to take the victory by a few bike lengths, his fifth ever Amgen Tour of California stage win. High Road's Gerald Ciolek was 2nd and Gerolsteiner's Heinrich Haussler took 3rd. CSC can also celebrate that Fabian Cancellara hung onto the golden leader's jersey.
Stage 2 begins in Santa Rosa tomorrow at 10 PST with a 116 mile/186-km stage to Sacramento. The riders will face two King of the Mountains climbs along with two Sprints.