Trek-Livestrong’s Jesse Sergent shocked the star-studded field at the SRAM Tour of the Gila Friday, winning the 16.15-mile Tyrone time trial in 34:09, 14 seconds ahead of race leader Levi Leipheimer (Mellow Johnny’s).
Sergent, 21, the world individual pursuit silver medalist, started 42 minutes before Leipheimer, and was on his bike riding back to his hotel when his phone rang; it was a teammate telling him to return to the finish line because he won.
It was a surprise to many. “When I heard I was second, I figured it was Dave (Zabriskie) that beat me,” Leipheimer said. “So I was like, ‘how much did I lose to Dave by?’ They said, ‘no, you beat Dave.’ I said, ‘so, who beat me?’ When I heard it was Jesse, I said, ‘cool.’”
Zabriskie (DZ Nuts), the U.S. time trial champion, was third, 12 seconds behind Leipheimer. His teammate Tom Danielson was fourth and Fly V’s Phil Zajicek was fifth.
Leipheimer still leads the GC; Sergent started the day in 54th place, 5:19 behind Leipheimer. Complete official GC results were not immediately available.
The win was even a surprise for Sergent, who last year finished 3:08 behind Leipheimer at this time trial, turning a 36:08 in faster conditions.
“It’s still kinda sinking in. I had good feelings in the legs and I felt good on the bike so I thought I might be top ten,” he said.
Sergent did not seem especially surprised at his huge improvement over the last 12 months.
“I may have matured a bit more. Last year I was learning a lot about myself and how to train properly, this year I know a lot more about how to train. Living in Boulder is nice and it’s easy to go out training there. I’m living in a house with three teammates so we’ve been doing some pretty solid rides.”
Leipheimer and teammate Lance Armstrong were among the very few starters who chose to use low-profile spoked wheels front and rear. Most, including Sergent, Zabriskie and Danielson, used rear disks (Sergent used a low-profile front wheel). Leipheimer said he chose safety over speed in the blustery conditions.
“I definitely lost time in the faster parts. I could see it with (minute-man Tom) Danielson in front of me. On the uphills I was great, I was pulling back time on everybody.”
Leipheimer mentioned Gert Steegmans’ crash in the Paris-Nice prologue, when the wind blew him off course.
“We don’t want that to happen. We’re here at the Tour of the Gila for training, preparing for California, and I didn’t want to turn into a sail and end my hopes for not just California, but even the Tour de France is not that far away.”
Top Ten Stage
- 1. Jesse Sergent Trek Livestrong in 0:34:09
- 2. Levi Leipheimer Team Mellow Johnny’s in 0:34:23 at 0:00:14
- 3. David Zabriskie Dz Nuts in 0:34:35 at 0:00:26
- 4. Tom Danielson Dz Nuts in 0:35:01 at 0:00:52
- 5. Phillip Zajicek Fly V Australia in 0:35:10 at 0:01:01
- 6. Rory Sutherland Unitedhealthcare Professional in 0:35:17 at 0:01:08
- 7. Alex Dowsett Trek Livestrong in 0:35:43 at 0:01:34
- 8. Ben Jacques-maynes Bissell Pro Cycling in 0:35:44 at 0:01:35
- 9. Julian Kyer Trek Livestrong in 0:35:45 at 0:01:36
- 10. Luis Amaran Jamis Sutter Home P/b Colavita in 0:35:50 at 0:01:41
Top Ten GC
- 1. Levi Leipheimer Team Mellow Johnny’s in 7:47:39
- 2. Tom Danielson Dz Nuts at 0:00:59
- 3. David Zabriskie Dz Nuts at 0:01:04
- 4. Phillip Zajicek Fly V Australia at 0:01:14
- 5. Luis Amaran Jamis Sutter Home P/b Colavita at 0:02:02
- 6. Andrew Talansky California Giant/specialized at 0:02:22
- 7. Cesar Grajales Ouch-Bahati Foundation Pro at 0:02:59
- 8. Chris Baldwin Unitedhealthcare Professional at 0:03:17
- 9. Corey Collier Ouch-Bahati Foundation Pro at 0:03:19
- 10. Rory Sutherland Unitedhealthcare Professional at 0:03:20