Cancellara wins Amgen opener

What more fitting an opening to the Tour of California than the best racers in the world flying down asphalt between rows of palm trees, and who a more fitting winner than current world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara (CSC)? The Swiss rider turned a time of 3:51.211 to handily beat second-place rider Bradley Wiggins (High Road) by four seconds over the 2.1-mile course. “With my beautiful rainbow jersey, to win here in Palo Alto, it is really good,” Cancellara said.

By Ben Delaney

Cancellara wins Amgen opener

Cancellara wins Amgen opener

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

What more fitting an opening to the Tour of California than the best racers in the world flying down asphalt between rows of palm trees, and who a more fitting winner than current world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara (CSC)? The Swiss rider turned a time of 3:51.211 to handily beat second-place rider Bradley Wiggins (High Road) by four seconds over the 2.1-mile course.

“With my beautiful rainbow jersey, to win here in Palo Alto, it is really good,” Cancellara said.

American Tyler Farrar (Slipstream-Chipotle) set the best time midway through the 132-man field, posting a 3:56 that was good enough for third on the day.

“I’m certainly pleasantly surprised of course,” Farrar said. “I knew that the form was good, and the course was good for me. It’s an honor to be on the podium with Brad and Fabian, they’re the best in the world. It’s a fantastic way to start the week.”

Defending champion Levi Leipheimer (Astana) finished just off the podium in fourth, crossing in 3:57, followed by Norwegian time trial champion and now best young rider of the race, Edvald Boasson Hagen (High Road).

Starting in a crowd-lined downtown Palo Alto, riders faced a dead flat start. After two quick left-hand turns, the riders beelined for the Stanford University campus, where Palm Avenue took them straight to the Stanford Oval, a wide, grassy loop packed with fans.

Leipheimer said he didn’t feel really good until the end.

“I think I underestimated a little bit, but I think it was okay,” Leipheimer said. “I wanted to win but in the back of my head I knew it would be hard. I don’t have my yellow jersey like normal but that’s all right. I’m gonna get it, I’m gonna get it.”

It wasn’t just the pros on the prologue course Sunday. A handful of VIPs took to the road in various states of dress, rolling down the official start ramp with the clock ticking. Specialized founder Mike Sinyard rode the course on a tricycle that recently won his company’s Innovate or Die design contest.

“This way I won’t embarrass myself too much,” he joked.

Most VIPs raced the time trials, however, including 2007 Palo Alto mayor Yoriko Kishimoto. Kishimoto posted a time of 6:50, and came to the post-race press conference still in her Webcor skinsuit. Kishimoto played an instrumental role in bringing the race to Palo Alto as part of her initiative to promote a strong, green economy through innovation, she said.

Farrar, for one, was glad she did.

Farrar held the best time for much of the day, and ended up on the podium.

Farrar held the best time for much of the day, and ended up on the podium.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Like many riders coming from Europe — the 23-year-old American lives in Ghent, Belgium — Farrar was happy to be riding in front of a big crowd under a warm sun.

“It felt like one of the biggest races in the world,” Farrar said. “I think every rider in Europe wants to come to this race — beautiful roads, beautiful weather, great crowds.”

After two years with Cofidis, Farrar jumped to the American Slipstream squad this season, but his focus remains the spring classics. Getting on the podium right off the bat, he said, “is nice for the confidence” heading into the early season.

Before Farrar gets to the classics he has seven more days of California racing, which includes at least a couple of chances at a sprint win.

“When it comes down to field sprints, guys will be selling out for me, and when it comes to the hills I’ll be selling out for them,” Farrar said about the team strategy for the season as a whole. “That is a good feeling; it’s nice to know your teammates have your back.”

Wiggins put his track speed to use on the power course.

Wiggins put his track speed to use on the power course.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Heading into the rest of the week, High Road’s Wiggins is looking to watch the back of the team’s GC hope George Hincapie, who finished 13th on the day, as well as the team’s sprinters, Gerald Ciolek and Mark Cavendish. But Sunday was Wiggins’ day.

“I’ve been preparing for the track worlds, as that’s been my key for the first part of the season,” Wiggins said. “So my training has been around this kind of distance and time. You set out to win it. I’m a little bit disappointed, but at the same time Fabian is just phenomenal. He is quite above phenomenal, really. I just try to plug away and get close to him each time.”

Wiggins rode the race with his trademark high cadence.

“I start a 54×16. It’s what I’ve acquired with a ramp start,” he said. “After about 200 meters I go down to the 15, then we hit the first corner. After that I’m traveling around 105rpm.”

As the race played out, the podium was swept by riders from teams that have been outspoken against doping — CSC, High Road and Slipstream-Chipotle. Cancellara was quick to point out that the three teams are not alone in the effort.

“It’s important that not only the three teams are going to fight; everybody is going to fight,” he said. “At CSC, the management, the staff, what we did last year, and what we do now, that’s what we all have to do.

“I did 35-40 controls last year. With our results we show that we did the right thing. I hope now that other teams are going to do the same. I think this biological passport system that they want to start is a good thing. The other day I was 10 minutes into my massage, then there’s a knock on the door from someone wanting to do a control. That means my massage is gone, but I don’t care. I do my job. I train hard. I do my best. My team, we fight hard, and we want to be the best.”

At the 2007 Tour de France, Cancellara took the prologue and then held onto the yellow jersey for a few days. As to how long he could hold the California leader’s jersey, Cancellara was noncommittal.

“Today is today, tomorrow we will see. It’s then the real Tour of California starts,” Cancellara said. “It’s harder than last year. There are better riders here. Our team is fitter than last year. We have a lot of cards to play. We want to win here. We are here to win. Myself, I don’t know. For me it is important that our team is going to win, whether it’s Bobby Julich, Jens Voigt, Stuart O’Grady or somebody else.”

Click here to watch the video recap

Photo Gallery


Amgen Tour of California — Prologue

1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), CSC, 3:51

2. Bradley Wiggins (GB), Team High Road, at 0:04

3. Tyler Farrar (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:05

4. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Astana, at 0:06

5. Edvald Boasson Hagen* (Nor), Team High Road, at 0:07

6. Gustav Larsson (Swe), CSC, at 0:08

7. David Zabriskie (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:08

8. Mark Cavendish (GB), Team High Road, at 0:08

9. David Millar (GB), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:08

10. Steven Cozza (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:09

11. Benjamin Jacques-Maynes (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling, at 0:09

12. Christian Vande Velde (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:10

13. George Hincapie (USA), Team High Road, at 0:10

14. Thomas Lövkvist (Swe), Team High Road, at 0:11

15. Karl Menzies (Aus), Health Net-Maxxis, at 0:11

16. Christopher Horner (USA), Astana, at 0:12

17. Vladimir Gusev (Rus), Astana, at 0:13

18. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), CSC, at 0:13

19. Dmytro Grabovskyy (Ukr), Quick Step, at 0:13

20. John Murphy (USA), Health Net-Maxxis, at 0:13

21. Tom Boonen (B), Quick Step, at 0:13

22. Adam Hansen (Aus), Team High Road, at 0:14

23. Kim Kirchen (Lux), Team High Road, at 0:14

24. Dominique Rollin (Can), Toyota-United, at 0:14

25. Tom Zirbel (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling, at 0:14

26. Matteo Tosatto (I), Quick Step, at 0:14

27. Jeff Louder (USA), BMC, at 0:14

28. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC, at 0:15

29. Gerald Ciolek (G), Team High Road, at 0:15

30. Garrett Peltonen (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling, at 0:15

31. Ignatas Konovalovas (Lit), Crédit Agricole, at 0:15

32. Jens Voigt (G), CSC, at 0:15

33. Benjamin Day (Aus), Toyota-United, at 0:16

34. Andrey Mizurov (Kaz), Astana, at 0:16

35. Matthew Crane (USA), Health Net-Maxxis, at 0:16

36. Jonathan Mumford (USA), Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast, at 0:16

37. Alexandre Moos (Swi), BMC, at 0:16

38. Edward King (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling, at 0:16

39. Scott Zwizanski (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling, at 0:16

40. Danny Pate (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:16

41. Aaron Kemps (Aus), Astana, at 0:17

42. Roman Kilun (USA), Health Net-Maxxis, at 0:17

43. Rubens Bertogliati (Swi), Saunier Duval, at 0:17

44. Mario Cipollini (I), Rock Racing, at 0:17

45. Darren Lill (RSA), BMC, at 0:17

46. Sergey Ivanov (Rus), Astana, at 0:18

47. Pena Grisales Victor Hugo (Col), Rock Racing, at 0:18

48. Mark Renshaw (Aus), Crédit Agricole, at 0:18

49. Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat), Saunier Duval, at 0:18

50. Scott Nydam (USA), BMC, at 0:18

51. Freddie Rodriguez (USA), Rock Racing, at 0:18

52. David Canada Gracia (Sp), Saunier Duval, at 0:19

53. Jason Mccartney (USA), CSC, at 0:19

54. Rory Sutherland (Aus), Health Net-Maxxis, at 0:19

55. Jurgen Vandewalle (B), Quick Step, at 0:20

56. Thomas Voeckler (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 0:20

57. Bernard Van Ulden (USA), Jelly Belly, at 0:20

58. Paul Martens (G), Rabobank, at 0:20

59. Mathew Hayman (Aus), Rabobank, at 0:20

60. Thomas Danielson (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:20

61. Fabian Wegmann (G), Gerolsteiner, at 0:20

62. Thomas Peterson (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:20

63. Robert Gesink (Nl), Rabobank, at 0:21

64. Karsten Kroon (Nl), CSC, at 0:21

65. Philip Zajicek (USA), Health Net-Maxxis, at 0:21

66. Alexandre Pichot (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 0:21

67. Andrea Tonti (I), Quick Step, at 0:21

68. Janez Brajkovic (Slo), Astana, at 0:21

69. Ivan Dominguez (Cub), Toyota-United, at 0:21

70. Heath Blackgrove (NZl), Toyota-United, at 0:21

71. Antonio Cruz (USA), BMC, at 0:21

72. Nicholas Reistad (USA), Jelly Belly, at 0:21

73. Dimitri Champion (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 0:21

74. Jackson Stewart (USA), BMC, at 0:21

75. Sbastien Turgot (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 0:21

76. Timothy Johnson (USA), Health Net-Maxxis, at 0:22

77. Jose Juan Jose (ARG), CSC, at 0:22

78. Aaron Olson (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling, at 0:22

79. Kevin Hulsmans (B), Quick Step, at 0:22

80. Barry Aaron Barry (NZl), Jelly Belly, at 0:23

81. Paolo Bettini (I), Quick Step, at 0:23

82. Rubiera Vigil Jos Luis (Sp), Astana, at 0:23

83. Iker Camano Ortuzar (Sp), Saunier Duval, at 0:23

84. Eros Capecchi (I), Saunier Duval, at 0:23

85. Nicholas Sanderson (Aus), Jelly Belly, at 0:23

86. Ardila Cano Mauricio Alberto (Col), Rabobank, at 0:23

87. Bauke Mollema (Nl), Rabobank, at 0:24

88. Hilton Clarke (Aus), Toyota-United, at 0:24

89. Perrig Quemeneur (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 0:24

90. Jonathan Clarke (Aus), Toyota-United, at 0:24

91. Richard England (Aus), Bissell Pro Cycling, at 0:24

92. Jonathan Hivert (F), Crédit Agricole, at 0:24

93. Cyril Lemoine (F), Crédit Agricole, at 0:25

94. Pedro Horrillo Munoz (Sp), Rabobank, at 0:25

95. Oscar Freire Gomez (Sp), Rabobank, at 0:25

96. Kevin Lacombe (Can), Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast, at 0:25

97. Ermanno Capelli (I), Saunier Duval, at 0:25

98. Dan Bowman (USA), Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast, at 0:25

99. Taylor Tolleson (USA), BMC, at 0:25

100. Justin Spinelli (USA), Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast, at 0:26

101. Julien Simon (F), Crédit Agricole, at 0:26

102. Heinrich Haussler (G), Gerolsteiner, at 0:26

103. Bryce Mead (USA), Jelly Belly, at 0:26

104. Vincent Jerome (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 0:27

105. Jonathan Sundt (USA), Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast, at 0:27

106. Julien Belgy (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 0:27

107. Danilo Wyss (Swi), BMC, at 0:27

108. Hendricus Vogels (Aus), Toyota-United, at 0:28

109. Bernhard Kohl (A), Gerolsteiner, at 0:28

110. Doug Ollerenshaw (USA), Rock Racing, at 0:29

111. Burke Swindlehurst (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling, at 0:29

112. Frank Pipp (USA), Health Net-Maxxis, at 0:29

113. Johannes Frhlinger (G), Gerolsteiner, at 0:30

114. Scott Tietzel (USA), Jelly Belly, at 0:30

115. Michael Lange (USA), Jelly Belly, at 0:30

116. Yannick Talabardon (F), Crédit Agricole, at 0:30

117. Kevin Seeldraeyers (B), Quick Step, at 0:30

118. Patrice Halgand (F), Crédit Agricole, at 0:30

119. Alexander Candelario (USA), Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast, at 0:31

120. Pagliarini Mendonca Luciano Andr (BRA), Saunier Duval, at 0:31

121. Michael Creed (USA), Rock Racing, at 0:32

122. Peter Wrolich (A), Gerolsteiner, at 0:32

123. Christophe Le Mevel (F), Crédit Agricole, at 0:33

124. Markus Zberg (Swi), Gerolsteiner, at 0:33

125. Caleb Manion (Aus), Toyota-United, at 0:33

126. Andrew Bajadali (USA), Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast, at 0:33

127. Matthew Rice (Aus), Jelly Belly, at 0:33

128. Oliver Zaugg (Swi), Gerolsteiner, at 0:34

129. Laurent Lefevre (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 0:35

130. Nicholas Waite (USA), Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast, at 0:35

131. Angel Gomez Gomez (Sp), Saunier Duval, at 0:37

132. Mathias Frank (Swi), Gerolsteiner, at 0:44