Lancaster wins stage 2 of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California, takes overall lead

The Cervelo TestTeam rider takes the sprint from a select group that formed in the hills outside Santa Rosa.

Lancaster simply outpowered the others on the final straight
Lancaster simply outpowered the others on the final straight

With a hard sprint at the end of a long, treacherous day, Brett Lancaster (Cervélo TestTeam) captured the stage win and the leader’s jersey on stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California. An elite group of 27 riders came to the line after a tough, wet ride up and over the mountains outside the finish city of Santa Rosa.

“I put a lot of hard work into the last four weeks, with altitude training in Boulder, and a win like this is just incredible,” Lancaster said just after the finish.

Liquigas-Doimo’s young Slovak rider Peter Sagan was second, ahead of Lars Boom (Rabobank) and Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis).

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) finished in the last of seven main groups, 17:20 behind Lancaster, who now leads Sagan (Liquigas) and Karl Menzies (UHC) by four seconds.

After his RadioShack team controlled the early break and then forced the pace over the decisive Trinity Grade, defending champion Levi Leipheimer rolled in safely with the front group along with teammates Lance Armstrong, Chris Horner, Jani Brajkovic and Jose Luis Rubiera. Garmin-Transitions had four riders in the move: Dave Zabriskie, Tom Danielson, Ryder Hesjedal and Peter Stetina. Other ProTour GC favorites present included Saxo Bank’s Andy Schleck and Jens Voigt, HTC-Columbia’s Mick Rogers and Lars Bak and Liquigas’ Francesco Bellotti.

A few domestic riders made the split, too, including Fly V Australia’s Phil Zajicek, Bissell’s Paul Mach and two survivors of the day’s break — UHC’s Karl Menzies and Team Type 1’s Thomas Rabou, who took over the KOM jersey from Mach.

Domestic teams make breakaway

The 110-mile (177.1km) day from Davis to Santa Rosa began with a hard fight to establish a break, which came together before the 20km mark.

The break:

  • Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis)
  • Robert Thomson (Fly V Australia)
  • Andrew Randall (SpiderTech)
  • Thomas Rabou (Team Type 1)
  • Michael Friedman (Jelly Belly)

Since almost the entire field finished at the same time on Sunday, the break members’ GC position was irrelevant, but it was notable that none of the ProTour teams were represented in the group. Its composition apparently was something that the heavy hitters in the field could live with.

The break built up a lead of near five minutes
The break built up a lead of near five minutes

The four rolled out a nearly five-minute gap by the base of the day’s first big obstacle, the Howell Mountain climb. Cavendish’s HTC-Columbia team controlled the front, with some help from Fly V and RadioShack.

Rabou was the most aggressive on Howell Mountain and took the KOM points (he would later be awarded the Most Courageous prize, as well). Friedman lost contact early on the climb, but rejoined the group after the descent and the five continued their trek across sometimes misty, slippery roads.

The climbs

The group stayed together, bringing a 3:30 gap into the penultimate climb, the Category 3 Oakville Grade.

On Oakville, less than 25 miles from Santa Rosa, the break and the peloton began fracturing as the pace — set in the field mostly by RadioShack — and the slippery conditions took their toll. Rabdou sped ahead to take the KOM points, and stayed off the front to lead over the final obstacle, the Cat.2 Trinity Grade.

The main group, however — or what was left of it —  was coming up fast. Over the Oakville and Trinity climbs, Cavendish, Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) among others, were dropped.

On the slippery Trinity descent, riders from many teams went down. Notably upright were all the RadioShack pros.

The run-in

A lead group of about 25 came together, absorbing Rabdou. The group contained six RadioShack riders — among them Lance Armstrong, Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer — and five Garmin-Transitions riders, including Dave Zabriskie and Tom Danielson. Andy Schleck and Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) also made the cut. National champ George Hincapie (BMC) chased just 20 seconds back with Ben Day (Fly V Australia) and others.

RadioShack in the wet
RadioShack in the wet

With a half-dozen riders in the group, RadioShack drove the train into Santa Rosa, while a squadron of BMC riders worked with Hincapie.

Lancaster was one of the few riders in the break without a teammate, but the 30-year-old Australian took the lead coming around the final left hander, passed Lars Boom (Rabobank) and held off Peter Sagan, who came up on his right at the line.

Up next

Tuesday’s stage 3 is a 182km affair from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. The route is a beefed-up version of last year’s stage 2 to Santa Cruz when Levi Leipheimer made his decisive attack to take the overall lead. A successful breakaway is nearly certain on the often twisting, narrow roads and the finish at Santa Cruz’s famed boardwalk seems sure to see a new race leader. (Related: 2010 Tour of California route).

Complete results

The stage podium: Lars Boom (third), Brett Lancaster (first) and Peter Sagan (second).
The stage podium: Lars Boom (third), Brett Lancaster (first) and Peter Sagan (second).

Quick results

Stage results

  • 1. Brett Lancaster (Cervelo TestTeam)
  • 2. Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo)
  • 3. Lars Boom (Rabobank)

GC standings

  • 1.Lancaster
  • 2.Sagan at 4s
  • 3.Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis) s.t.