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Leipheimer wins his second consecutive Tour of California

By VeloNews.com • Published

Hincapie grabs the final stage win

By Fred Dreier

Leipheimer enjoys a second consecutive Amgen Tour of California triumph

Leipheimer enjoys a second consecutive Amgen Tour of California triumph

Photo: Graham Watson

Adding a ray of sunshine to an otherwise cloudy week of racing for Team High Road, American George Hincapie won the final stage of the 2008 Amgen Tour of California on Sunday, the 93.4-mile journey from Santa Clarita to Pasadena.

The American took the victory in downtown Pasadena ahead of breakaway companions Michael Creed, Jason McCartney, Rory Sutherland and Tom Zirbel.

And they're off! Racers tackle the final stage of the 2008 Tour of California

And they’re off! Racers tackle the final stage of the 2008 Tour of California

Photo: Jon James

Astana’s Levi Leipheimer secured his second consecutive California overall title, wrapping up the often-soggy 8-day race that he anchored with a savvy second-place finish in Wednesday’s mountainous stage 3 and a brilliant effort Friday in the Solvang time trial. The victory earned Leipheimer’s Astana team a much-needed morale boost, after the team learned this month that it would not be invited to the 2008 Tour de France.

“The theme of this year’s Tour of California has been the caliber of riders who showed up to race,” Leipheimer said. “For me to win the race is unbelievable. The reason this win is so special to me is because the competitors are so great.”

A new stage for the race, Sunday’s journey rolled through Vasquez, Bouquet and Soledad canyons — valleys ravaged by forest fires in December and known to produce flash floods in rainy conditions.

The stage also featured the ascent of the Millcreek summit on the northern edge of the San Gabriel Mountains, which tops out at 4800 feet, just below the snowline. On the eve of the stage, race officials considered scrapping the stage for fear of flooding, and instead holding a circuit race in downtown Pasadena.

After a long week that included an epic 7-hour-plus stage 4 on Thursday, many riders were disappointed when officials decided to run Sunday’s race as planned.

It was another miserable day in the saddle, and it showed on the riders' faces.

It was another miserable day in the saddle, and it showed on the riders’ faces.

Photo: Graham Watson

Slipstream-Chipotle’s David Millar, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie all came into the day within two minutes of Leipheimer. CSC’s Fabian Cancellara and Gustav Larsson also held hopes of toppling the American at 1:18 and 1:19 back, respectively.

At sign in, Zabriskie hinted the team planned more than a last-day parade.

“I think we’re going to ride around and just wave at people,” Zabriskie joked with race announcer Dave Towle.

While the pace was definitely not tranquilo, the peloton took on a controlled rhythm once a ten-man break separated itself 20 miles into the stage. Slipstream sent Danny Pate up the road with Hincapie, Creed, Zirbel, McCartney, Sutherland, Oliver Zaugg (Gerolsteiner), Yannick Talabardon (Credit-Agricole), Dimitri Champion (Bouygues Telecom) and Taylor Tolleson (BMC). The group quickly grabbed three minutes on the peloton, which was patrolled by Astana and Quick Step-Innergetic.

The group hit the base of Millcreek with a gusting headwind. The temperature dropped into the low 40s, and snow peppered the tops of the peaks. Drizzle escalated into a stiff rain as the riders pulled themselves closer to the summit.

Creed, who nearly dropped out of the race after suffering from a virus, came into the day as the lanterne rouge, the race’s furthest rider down on general classification. The 26-year-old Coloradan attacked relentlessly up the climb, opening up a 15-second advantage on his breakaway companions.

Michael Creed (Rock Racing) was aggressive early and often.

Michael Creed (Rock Racing) was aggressive early and often.

Photo: Graham Watson

“I was on a mission today to do it — it felt good to stick out,” Creed said. “It felt good to finally be a part of the race.”

Back in the field, Slipstream attempted a few surges with Tom Peterson, who attacked with the race’s best young rider competition leader Robert Gesink (Rabobank) and Victor Hugo Peña (Rock Racing). But the blue train of Astana quickly gobbled up the short advances.

“It was a strong headwind and there wasn’t a whole lot we could do,” said Slipstream boss Jonathan Vaughters. “And you can’t do much with a straight headwind into the descent.”

Indeed conditions turned nasty on the Pasadena side of the San Gabriel mountains, as blowing rain and mist reduced visibility to a few hundred yards. The drop from Millcreek to the beginning of the finishing circuits outside of La Cañada lasted nearly 25 miles and sent many riders back to team cars for jackets.

The breakaway had a mere two minutes on the peloton once it entered the first of six 1.86-mile circuits around the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, and the teamwork quickly transformed into aggression. McCartney and Sutherland attacked, dropping the riders from Slipstream, Credit Agricole, BMC and Bouygues Telecom. Then Zirbel took a dig. The big American, who finished 8th at the stage 5 time trial in Solvang, opened up a sizable gap.

“Everyone was fanning out and that’s the best opportunity to go and hope someone would go with me. I thought I’d last maybe a lap or two,” said Zirbel, whose solo effort ended up lasting five laps. “It kept going and going, and I started praying for someone to catch me. With two laps to go I had nothing.”

Bissell's Tom Zirbel took a bold late flyer.

Bissell’s Tom Zirbel took a bold late flyer.

Photo: Graham Watson

The dig earned Zirbel the most aggressive rider jersey, but it proved a fatal move. Hincapie and Sutherland bridged to the fading Bissell rider on the final lap, and with 1km remaining Creed and McCartney joined the group.

But no one in the group had the legs to match Hincapie in the sprint, and the big rider easily took the kick by two bike lengths ahead of Sutherland.

But it was Hincapie rocketing in for the stage win.

But it was Hincapie rocketing in for the stage win.

Photo: Graham Watson

The win was sweet revenge for Hincapie, who finished a close second on the stage 4 slog from Seaside to San Luis Obispo, then watched in horror as race officials relegated his teammate Mark Cavendish from first to last place after stage 6.

“As far as I’m concerned we won two stages at this year’s race,” Hincapie said, referring to stage 6. “This is a big relief for us. We needed a win.”


Race Notes

  • BMC rider Scott Nydam took the King of the Mountains competition, outlasting Belgian Jurgen Van Dewalle by seven points. Nydam took over the jersey after his teammate Jackson Stewart abandoned on stage 4 due to hypothermia while leading the competition.
  • Toyota-United’s Dominique Rollin held off Argentinian Juan Jose Haedo (CSC) in the points competition. Rollin, who won the epic stage 4 into San Luis Obispo, came into the final stage nursing a mere three-point lead over Haedo, the green jersey winner in 2007, took the competition 44 points to 42.
  • Robert Gesink (Rabobank) took the best young rider classification over Thomas Peterson (Slipstream-Chipotle) by 40 seconds. Peterson’s Slipstream-Chipotle team took the team classification by 16 seconds over Astana.

Photo Gallery

Results

Results stage 7

1. George Hincapie (USA), Team High Road, 3:50:57

2. Rory Sutherland (Aus), Health Net Maxxis, s.t.

3. Jason Mccartney (USA), CSC, s.t.

4. Michael Creed (USA), Rock Racing, s.t.

5. Tom Zirbel (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling, s.t.

6. Mark Cavendish* (GB), Team High Road, 0:12

7. Juan Jose Haedo (ARG), CSC

8. Dominique Rollin (CAN), Toyota-United

9. Tom Boonen (B), Quickstep

10. Mario Cipollini (I), Rock Racing

11. Danilo Wyss* (Swi), BMC

12. Alexandre Pichot (F), Bouygues Telecom

13. Pedro Horrillo Munoz (Sp), Rabobank

14. Frank Pipp K (USA), Health Net Maxxis

15. Paolo Bettini (I), Quickstep

16. Freddie Rodriguez (USA), Rock Racing

17. Aaron Kemps (Aus), Astana

18. Jeff Louder (USA), BMC

19. Nicholas Reistad (USA), Jelly Belly

20. Sébastien Turgot (F), Bouygues Telecom

21. Benjamin Jaques-Maynes(USA), Bissell Pro Cycling

22. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Astana

23. Gerald Ciolek* (G), Team High Road

24. Christian Vandevelde (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle

25. Christophe Le Mevel (F), Credit Agricole

26. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), CSC

27. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC

28. Jurgen Vandewalle (B), Quickstep

29. Kevin Seeldraeyers* (B), Quickstep

30. David Millar (GB), Slipstream-Chipotle

31. Bernhard Kohl (A), Gerolsteiner

32. Pena Grisales Victor Hugo (Col), Rock Racing

33. Julien Simon* (F), Credit Agricole

34. Gustav Larsson (Swe), CSC

35. LÖvkvist Thomas (Swe), Team High Road

36. Christopher Horner (USA), Astana

37. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), CSC

38. Oliver Zaugg (Swi), Gerolsteiner

39. Steven Cozza* (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle

40. Doug Ollerenshaw (USA), Rock Racing

41. Alexandre Moos (Swi), BMC

42. Michael Lange (USA), Jelly Belly

43. Mathew Hayman (Aus), Rabobank

44. Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat), Saunier Duval

45. Robert Gesink* (Nl), Rabobank

46. David Canada Gracia (Sp), Saunier Duval

47. Sergey Ivanov (Rus), Astana

48. Thomas Peterson* (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle

49. Ignatas Konovalovas* (Lit), Credit Agricole

50. Iker Camano Ortuzar (Sp), Saunier Duval

51. Oscar Freire (Sp), Rabobank

52. Angel Gomez (Sp), Saunier Duval

53. Jonathan Mumford (USA), Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast

54. Matteo Tosatto (I), Quickstep

55. Rubens Bertogliati (Swi), Saunier Duval

56. Perrig Quemeneur (F), Bouygues Telecom

57. David Zabriskie (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle

58. Ardila Cano Mauricio Alberto (Col), Rabobank

59. Ermanno Capelli* (I), Saunier Duval

60. Karsten Kroon (Nl), CSC

61. Scott Zwizanski (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling

62. Garrett Peltonen (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling

63. Jens Voigt (G), CSC

64. Andrea Tonti (I), Quickstep

65. Bauke Mollema* (Nl), Rabobank

66. Kevin Hulsmans (B), Quickstep

67. Aaron Olson (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling

68. Thomas Voeckler (F), Bouygues Telecom

69. Taylor Tolleson* (USA), BMC, 1:00

70. Andrey Mizurov (Kaz), Astana

71. Justin Spinelli (USA), Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast

72. Scott Nydam (USA), BMC

73. Rubiera Vigil José Luis (Sp), Astana, 2:16

74. Janez Brajkovic (SLO), Astana

75. Yannick Talabardon (F), Credit Agricole, 2:17

76. Danny Pate (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 3:03

77. Dimitri Champion (F), Bouygues Telecom, 10:03

Overall Results

1. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Astana, 29:24:32

2. David Millar (GB), Slipstream-Chipotle, 0:49

3. Christian Vandevelde (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 1:08

4. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), CSC, 1:18

5. Gustav Larsson (Swe), CSC, 1:19

6. David Zabriskie (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 1:36

7. Christopher Horner (USA), Astana, 2:07

8. Jurgen Vandewalle (B), Quickstep, 2:11

9. Robert Gesink* (Nl), Rabobank, 2:18

10. Alexandre Moos (Swi), BMC, 2:27

11. Thomas Peterson* (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 2:58

12. Pena Grisales Victor Hugo (Col), Rock Racing, 3:17

13. Bernhard Kohl (A), Gerolsteiner, 3:34

14. Kevin Seeldraeyers* (B), Quickstep, 3:40

15. Iker Camano (Sp), Saunier Duval, 5:06

16. Benjamin Jaques-Maynes (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling, 5:48

17. Matteo Tosatto (I), Quickstep, 6:49

18. George Hincapie (USA), Team High Road, 7:08

19. Ardila Cano Mauricio Alberto (Col), Rabobank, 7:48

20. Oscar Freire (Sp), Rabobank, 8:08

21. Ignatas Konovalovas* (Lit), Credit Agricole, 8:50

22. Oliver Zaugg (Swi), Gerolsteiner, 9:23

23. David Canada (Sp), Saunier Duval, 10:05

24. Jeff Louder (USA), BMC, 10:46

25. Jens Voigt (G), CSC, 11:11

26. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC, 11:49

27. Janez Brajkovic (SLO), Astana, 12:02

28. Rubens Bertogliati (Swi), Saunier Duval

29. Jason Mccartney (USA), CSC, 15:31

30. Karsten Kroon (Nl), CSC, 15:41

31. Christophe Le Mevel (F), Credit Agricole, 15:47

32. Yannick Talabardon (F), Credit Agricole, 17:00

33. Aaron Olson (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling, 18:45

34. Rory Sutherland (Aus), Health Net Maxxis, 19:14

35. Michael Lange (USA), Jelly Belly, 19:22

36. Thomas LÖvkvist (Swe), Team High Road, 20:05

37. Doug Ollerenshaw (USA), Rock Racing, 20:16

38. José Luis Rubiera (Sp), Astana, 20:25

39. Angel Gomez (Sp), Saunier Duval, 20:46

40. Tom Zirbel (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling, 22:22

41. Paolo Bettini (I), Quickstep, 24:14

42. Dominique Rollin (CAN), Toyota-United, 26:10

43. Gerald Ciolek* (G), Team High Road, 26:57

44. Pedro Horrillo Munoz (Sp), Rabobank, 28:34

45. Juan Jose Haedo (ARG), CSC, 28:47

46. Mollema Bauke* (Nl), Rabobank, 29:08

47. Andrey Mizurov (Kaz), Astana, 29:17

48. Mathew Hayman (Aus), Rabobank, 32:06

49. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), CSC, 32:10

50. Tom Boonen (B), Quickstep, 32:11

51. Aaron Kemps (Aus), Astana, 32:44

52. Kevin Hulsmans (B), Quickstep, 32:52

53. Perrig Quemeneur (F), Bouygues Telecom, 33:28

54. Julien Simon* (F), Credit Agricole, 33:30

55. Mark Cavendish* (GB), Team High Road, 33:37

56. Alexandre Pichot (F), Bouygues Telecom, 34:22

57. Danny Pate (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 34:41

58. Mario Cipollini (I), Rock Racing, 35:05

59. Turgot Sébastien (F), Bouygues Telecom, 35:23

60. Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat), Saunier Duval, 35:53

61. Garrett Peltonen (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling, 36:14

62. Ermanno Capelli* (I), Saunier Duval, 38:06

63. Sergey Ivanov (Rus), Astana, 38:17

64. Frank Pipp K (USA), Health Net Maxxis, 38:26

65. Steven Cozza* (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 38:52

66. Nicholas Reistad (USA), Jelly Belly

67. Andrea Tonti (I), Quickstep, 39:45

68. Taylor Tolleson* (USA), BMC, 39:59

69. Freddie Rodriguez (USA), Rock Racing, 40:06

70. Justin Spinelli (USA), Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast, 40:07

71. Thomas Voeckler (F), Bouygues Telecom, 41:04

72. Dimitri Champion (F), Bouygues Telecom, 41:34

73. Scott Zwizanski (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling, 41:58

74. Jonathan Mumford (USA), Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast, 42:27

75. Danilo Wyss* (Swi), BMC, 44:08

76. Scott Nydam (USA), BMC, 46:42

77. Michael Creed (USA), Rock Racing, 52:12

Points Overall

1. Dominique Rollin (CAN), Toyota-United, 44 Pts.

2. Juan Jose Haedo (ARG), CSC, 42 Pts.

3. Ciolek Gerald* (G), Team High Road, 32 Pts.

4. George Hincapie (USA), Team High Road, 28 Pts.

5. Mark Cavendish* (GB), Team High Road, 24 Pts.

6. Rory Sutherland (Aus), Health Net Maxxis, 20 Pts.

7. Tom Boonen (B), Quickstep, 17 Pts.

8. Robert Gesink* (Nl), Rabobank, 15 Pts.

9. Mario Cipollini (I), Rock Racing, 13 Pts.

10. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Astana, 12 Pts.

11. Michael Creed (USA), Rock Racing, 12 Pts.

12. Tom Zirbel (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling, 11 Pts.

13. Scott Nydam (USA), BMC, 11 Pts.

14. Paolo Bettini (I), Quickstep, 10 Pts.

15. Jurgen Vandewalle (B), Quickstep, 10 Pts.

16. Iker Camano Ortuzar (Sp), Saunier Duval, 10 Pts.

17. Jason Mccartney (USA), CSC, 10 Pts.

18. Kevin Seeldraeyers* (B), Quickstep, 7 Pts.

19. Oscar Freire (Sp), Rabobank, 7 Pts.

20. Matteo Tosatto (I), Quickstep, 6 Pts.

21. José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Sp), Astana, 6 Pts.

22. Freddie Rodriguez (USA), Rock Racing, 6 Pts.

23. Danilo Wyss* (Swi), BMC, 6 Pts.

24. Alexandre Pichot (F), Bouygues Telecom, 6 Pts.

25. Talabardon Yannick (F), Credit Agricole, 6 Pts.

26. Thomas Peterson* (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 5 Pts.

27. David Canada (Sp), Saunier Duval, 5 Pts.

28. Christopher Horner (USA), Astana, 4 Pts.

29. Ardila Cano Mauricio Alberto (Col), Rabobank, 3 Pts.

30. Alexandre Moos (Swi), BMC, 2 Pts.

31. Sébastien Turgot (F), Bouygues Telecom, 2 Pts.

32. David Millar (GB), Slipstream-Chipotle, 1 Pts.

33. Pedro Horrillo Munoz (Sp), Rabobank, 1 Pts.

34. Victor Hugo Pena Grisales (Col), Rock Racing, 1 Pts.

35. Hayman Mathew (Aus), Rabobank, 1 Pts.

36. Steven Cozza* (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 1 Pts.

37. Oliver Zaugg (Swi), Gerolsteiner, 1 Pts.

38. Christophe Le Mevel (F), Credit Agricole, 1 Pts.

39. Danny Pate (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 1 Pts.

K.O.M. Overall

1. Scott Nydam (USA), BMC, 26 Pts.

2. Jurgen Vandewalle (B), Quickstep, 19 Pts.

3. Robert Gesink* (Nl), Rabobank, 17 Pts.

4. Alexandre Moos (Swi), BMC, 15 Pts.

5. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Astana, 12 Pts.

6. Steven Cozza* (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 12 Pts.

7. Mauricio AlbertoArdila Cano (Col), Rabobank, 12 Pts.

8. José LuisRubiera Vigil (Sp), Astana, 12 Pts.

9. Christophe Le Mevel (F), Credit Agricole, 11 Pts.

10. Christopher Horner (USA), Astana, 11 Pts.

11. Iker Camano Ortuzar (Sp), Saunier Duval, 11 Pts.

12. Jens Voigt (G), CSC, 9 Pts.

13. Rory Sutherland (Aus), Health Net Maxxis, 8 Pts.

14. David Zabriskie (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 7 Pts.

15. Michael Creed (USA), Rock Racing, 6 Pts.

16. Danilo Wyss* (Swi), BMC, 6 Pts.

17. Alexandre Pichot (F), Bouygues Telecom, 6 Pts.

18. Kevin Seeldraeyers* (B), Quickstep, 5 Pts.

19. Yannick Talabardon (F), Credit Agricole, 5 Pts.

20. Gustav Larsson (Swe), CSC, 4 Pts.

21. David Canada Gracia (Sp), Saunier Duval, 4 Pts.

22. Taylor Tolleson* (USA), BMC, 4 Pts.

23. Oliver Zaugg (Swi), Gerolsteiner, 3 Pts.

24. George Hincapie (USA), Team High Road, 2 Pts.

25. Jeff Louder (USA), BMC, 2 Pts.

26. Thomas Peterson* (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 2 Pts.

27. Karsten Kroon (Nl), CSC, 2 Pts.

28. Jason Mccartney (USA), CSC, 1 Pts.

29. Dominique Rollin (CAN), Toyota-United, 1 Pts.

30. David Millar (GB), Slipstream-Chipotle, 1 Pts.

Best Young Rider Overall

1. Robert Gesink* (Nl), Rabobank, 29:26:50

2. Thomas Peterson* (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 0:40

3. Kevin Seeldraeyers* (B), Quickstep, 1:22

4. Ignatas Konovalovas* (Lit), Credit Agricole, 6:32

5. Gerald Ciolek* (G), Team High Road, 24:39

6. Bauke Mollema* (Nl), Rabobank, 26:50

7. Julien Simon* (F), Credit Agricole, 31:12

8. Mark Cavendish* (GB), Team High Road, 31:19

9. Ermanno Capelli* (I), Saunier Duval, 35:48

10. Steven Cozza* (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 36:34

11. Taylor Tolleson* (USA), BMC, 37:41

12. Danilo Wyss* (Swi), BMC, 41:50

Teams Overall

1. Slipstream Chipotle Presented By H30, 88:17:05

2. Astana, 0:16

3. Team Csc, 8:44

4. Quick Step, 8:47

5. Rabobank, 10:02

6. Team Racing Team, 19:11

7. Saunier Duval-Scott, 22:59

8. High Road, 23:24

9. Crédit Agricole, 24:28

10. Bissell Pro Cycling, 36:40

11. Rock Racing, 47:56

12. Bouygues Telecom, 1:03:48

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