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Sprinters have their day as Leipheimer cruises to Tour of California title

Shoreline Drive in Long Beach may not be the Champs-Élysées, but just as the Tour de France traditionally ends with a sprinters’ showdown, so the 2007 Amgen Tour of California climaxed Sunday afternoon with a spectacular mass charge to the line. And just as a surprising winner often takes the Tour’s final stage, so Cuban Ivan Dominguez shocked the heavy hitters of the UCI ProTour and give the stage 7 victory to his domestic American team, Toyota-United.

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By John Wilcockson

The big Cuban pulls it off

The big Cuban pulls it off

Photo: Phoenix Sports

Shoreline Drive in Long Beach may not be the Champs-Élysées, but just as the Tour de France traditionally ends with a sprinters’ showdown, so the 2007 Amgen Tour of California climaxed Sunday afternoon with a spectacular mass charge to the line. And just as a surprising winner often takes the Tour’s final stage, so Cuban Ivan Dominguez shocked the heavy hitters of the UCI ProTour and give the stage 7 victory to his domestic American team, Toyota-United.

There was no doubt about his beating Rabobank’s stage 1 winner Graeme Brown, with T-Mobile’s Gerald Ciolek in third, followed in order by Liquigas’s Luca Paolini, Gerolsteiner’s Robert Förster, Crédit Agricole’s Thor Hushovd and Predictor-Lotto’s Fred Rodriguez — a line-up worthy of a Tour de France sprint finish.

While Dominguez was the surprise package of a cool, overcast day in this sprawling oceanside city, there was never a doubt that Discovery Channel’s Levi Leipheimer would keep the Amgen yellow jersey.

The big Cuban scores the only victory by a non-ProTour rider in this year's race

The big Cuban scores the only victory by a non-ProTour rider in this year’s race

Photo: Graham Watson

“This was one of the most satisfying wins of my career because CSC and all the other teams put a lot of pressure on us. I don’t know if any other team could have done it besides Discovery Channel,” said the 33-year-old California resident.

That was the good news for Discovery. The bad news was that after surgery Sunday morning on the broken radius bone of his left forearm, it was announced that George Hincapie would be out of racing for six to eight weeks — effectively making him a non-starter for the spring classics, including Paris-Roubaix.

Hincapie, however, played a major role in Leipheimer’s California victory. When Leipheimer fell on the stage 1 finishing circuit in his hometown of Santa Rosa, Hincapie showed his commitment by stopping and helping him chase the group of only 40 riders that avoided the mass pileup. Because more than two-thirds of the field was held up, the chief commissaire decided that neither Leipheimer nor 80 others affected would lose the minute or so they conceded to the leaders.

The break built a lead of three minutes and change

The break built a lead of three minutes and change

Photo: Graham Watson

Also to benefit from that controversial decision was Discovery’s Jason McCartney, who finally placed an excellent third overall. All four CSC riders who finished in the top six on GC — runner-up Jens Voigt, Bobby Julich, Stuart O’Grady and Christian Vande Velde — were in front of the crash in Santa Rosa.

Given a “second chance.” Leipheimer raced brilliantly to the final win, which included taking the week’s two time trials and being the catalyst of the winning breakaway over Sierra Road into San José on stage 3. Discovery was severely tested that day as well as on stage 6 on Saturday, where Hincapie had his crash.

“Levi led from start to finish,” McCartney commented, “but there was a lot of sweat left on the road, and a little bit of blood.”

Sprint finale
“I was just following wheels,” said Dominguez shortly after winning the final stage. “I was following Brown’s wheel the last three laps, and he took me all the way to the finish. I was feeling good all day. I was having bad legs all week, so today I feel much better.”

The pace wasn't exactly killer

The pace wasn’t exactly killer

Photo: Graham Watson

The pace was not particularly high on such a wide, straight circuit of 7.75 miles covered 10 times. A seven-man break that formed at the end of the first lap never had more than a three-minute lead, despite the efforts in particular of Slipstream-Chipotle’s Danny Pate, who was voted the week’s mist aggressive rider, and the Australians Adam Hansen (T-Mobile), Karl Menzies (Health Net-Maxxis) and Sean Sullivan (Toyota United). Also in the move were Health Net’s Tim Johnson, Slipstream’s Steven Cozza and Priority Health’s Ben Jacques-Mayne.

The seven leaders were absorbed one by one on the head-wind section on the back side of the circuit, with Menzies the last to be caught, two miles from the line. Then it was the turn of the sprinters. CSC (for overall points champion J.J. Haedo), Rabobank (for Brown), T-Mobile (for Ciolek) and Predictor-Lotto (for Fred Rodriguez) did most of the leading out back with the wind from the far turn.

Rodriguez was hoping it would be his day after a near-crash stopped him from challenging Haedo in the dying meters of Saturday’s stage.

“I had amazing legs,” he said. “But I needed today to be a fast stage, and it turned out to be really slow, which doesn’t suit my kind of sprint. The finish was the kind of conditions I like but there were just too many fresh guys. It was basically a lottery at the end.

“I was on Haedo’s wheel behind [Paolo] Bettini with 300 meters to go and the lead-out just died and everyone came from behind. So we got swarmed. We tried to come out to the right but it was too late.”

Asked how he compared the Long Beach finale with the Tour finish on the Champs-Élysées, Rodriguez said, “It was wide [like Paris] but the problem is the riders were so fresh. It was a fun circuit. Probably needed to add two hours to it to make it more of a race for me.”

This year the Amgen Tour of California was a race for Levi Leipheimer. Maybe he’ll be able to repeat this kind of form in France in five months time, just like the winner of the inaugural Tour of California did last year.

VeloNews senior writer Neal Rogers contributed to this report.


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Results
Top 10

1. Ivan Dominguez (Cub), Toyota United, 147.7km in 2:39:28
2. Graeme Brown (Aus), Rabobank, s.t.
3. Gerald Ciolek (G), T-Mobile, s.t.
4. Luca Paolini (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, s.t.
5. Robert Förster (G), Gerolsteiner, s.t.
6. Thor Hushovd (Nor), Crédit Agricole, s.t.
7. Fred Rodriguez (USA), Predictor-Lotto, s.t.
8. Henk Vogels (Aus), Toyota United, s.t.
9. Brice Jones (USA), Jelly Belly, s.t.
10. Juan José Haedo(Arg), CSC, s.t.

Final overall
1. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Discovery Channel, 24:57:24
2. Jens Voigt (G), CSC, at 0:21
3. Jason McCartney (USA), Discovery Channel, at0:54
4. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC, at 1:06
5. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), at CSC, 1:16
6. Christian Vande Velde (USA), at CSC, 1:24
7. Michael Rogers (Aus), T-Mobile, at 1:32
8. Ben Day (Aus), Navigators Insurance, at 1:38
9. Franco Pellizotti (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 1:41
10. Ryder Hesjedal (Can), Health Net-Maxxis, at 1:57

Jerseys
Mountains: Christophe Laurent (F), Crédit Agricole
Points: Juan José Haedo (Arg), Team CSC
Young rider: Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank
Team: CSC

Complete results

 

Photo Gallery

Results

Overall

1. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Discovery Channel, 24:57:24

2. Jens Voigt (G), CSC, at 0:21

3. Jason McCartney (USA), Discovery Channel, at 0:54

4. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC, at 1:06

5. Stuart O'Grady (Aus), CSC, at 1:16

6. Christian Vandevelde (USA), CSC, at 1:24

7. Michael Rogers (Aus), T-Mobile, at 1:32

8. Ben Day (Aus), Navigators Insurance, at 1:38

9. Franco Pellizotti (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 1:41

10. Ryder Hesjedal (Can), Health Net Maxxis, at 1:57

11. Christopher Horner (USA), Predictor-Lotto, at 2:09

12. Kim Kirchen (Lux), T-Mobile, at 2:16

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

14. Jakob Piil (Dk), T-Mobile, at 2:19

15. Dimitri Fofonov (Kaz), Credit Agricole, at 2:21

16. Danny Pate (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 2:31

17. Christopher Baldwin (USA), Toyota United, s.t.

18. Bram Tankink (Nl), Quick Step-Innergetic, at 2:37

19. Fabian Wegmann (G), Gerolsteiner, at 2:44

20. Robert Gesink (Nl), Rabobank, at 2:50

21. Mads Kaggestad (Nor), Credit Agricole, at 2:54

22. Sergey Lagutin (UZB), Navigators Insurance, at 3:05

23. Enrico Gasparotto (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 3:10

24. Anthony Colby (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, s.t.

25. Josep Jufre Pou (Sp), Predictor-Lotto, at 3:11

26. Veleriy Kobzarenko (Ukr), Navigators Insurance, s.t.

27. Bram De Groot (Nl), Rabobank, at 3:19

28. Matthew Lloyd (Aus), Predictor-Lotto, at 3:31

29. Theo Eltink (Nl), Rabobank, at 3:35

30. Ardila Cano Mauricio Alberto (Col), Rabobank, at 3:36

31. Thomas Peterson (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 3:43

32. Bernhard Kohl (A), Gerolsteiner, at 4:02

33. Paolo Bettini (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, at 4:27

34. Benjamin (USA), Priority Health-Bissell, at 4:28

35. Geert Verheyen (B), Quick Step-Innergetic, s.t.

36. Oliver Zaugg (Swi), Gerolsteiner, at 5:14

37. Jurgen Van De Walle (B), Quick Step-Innergetic, at 5:16

38. Cyril Lemoine (F), Credit Agricole, at 5:26

39. Viktar Rapinski (Blr), Navigators Insurance, at 5:54

40. Adam Hansen (Aus), T-Mobile, s.t.

41. Fred Rodriguez (USA), Predictor-Lotto, at 5:58

42. Sven Krauss (G), Gerolsteiner, at 6:20

43. Darren Lill (RSA), Navigators Insurance, at 6:22

44. Christophe Laurent (F), Credit Agricole, s.t.

45. Michael Barry (Can), T-Mobile, at 6:41

46. Mauro Facci (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, at 7:01

47. Jonathan Patrick McCarty (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 7:10

48. Jackson Stewart (USA), BMC, at 7:12

49. Ivan Basso (I), Discovery Channel, at 7:14

50. Jason Donald (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 7:30

51. Russell Downing (GB), Health Net Maxxis, at 7:32

52. William Frischkorn (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 7:42

53. Peter Hatton (Aus), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, at 7:47

54. David Vitoria (Swi), BMC, at 8:01

55. Alexandre Moos (Swi), BMC, at 8:20

56. Mario Aerts (B), Predictor-Lotto, at 8:25

57. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), CSC, at 8:35

58. Timothy Johnson (USA), Health Net Maxxis, s.t.

59. Karsten Kroon (Nl), CSC, at 8:50

60. Luca Paolini (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 9:19

61. Andrew Bajadali (USA), Jelly Belly, at 9:20

62. Giovanni Visconti (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, at 9:36

63. Lucas Euser (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 9:55

64. Steven Cozza (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 10:36

65. Aaron Olsen (USA), T-Mobile, at 10:57

66. Thomas Danielson (USA), Discovery Channel, at 11:31

67. Thor Hushovd (Nor), Credit Agricole, at 11:39

68. Kirk O'Bee (USA), Health Net Maxxis, at 11:52

69. Manuel Quinziato (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 12:09

70. Greg Henderson (NZl), T-Mobile, at 13:05

71. Gerald Ciolek (G), T-Mobile, at 13:59

72. Shawn Milne (USA), Health Net Maxxis, at 14:22

73. Karl Menzies (Aus), Health Net Maxxis, at 14:37

74. Mauro Da Dalto (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 14:52

75. Kjell Carlstrøm(FIN), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 15:45

76. Justin England (USA), Toyota United, at 16:02

77. Chris Wherry (USA), Toyota United, at 16:19

78. Kyle Gritters (USA), Health Net Maxxis, at 16:46

79. Brent Bookwalter (USA), U-23 National Team, at 16:57

80. Juan José Haedo(Arg), CSC, at 17:20

81. Jan Grischa Jan (G), Rabobank, at 18:00

82. Mathew Hayman (Aus), Rabobank, at 18:10

83. Nicolar Reistad (USA), Jelly Belly, at 18:32

84. Christophe Kern (F), Credit Agricole, at 18:40

85. Bart Dockx (B), Predictor-Lotto, at 18:41

86. Charly Wegelius (GB), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 19:01

87. Philip Zajicek (USA), Navigators Insurance, at 19:08

88. Matteo Tosatto (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, at 19:54

89. Alexander Candelario (USA), Jelly Belly, at 20:04

90. Taylor Tolleson (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 20:08

91. Volker Ordowski (G), Gerolsteiner, at 20:50

92. Nicolas Gates (Aus), Predictor-Lotto, at 21:18

93. Peter Wrolich (A), Gerolsteiner, at 22:32

94. Michael Rasmussen (Dk), Rabobank, at 22:33

95. Robert Förster (G), Gerolsteiner, at 23:37

96. Brice Jones (USA), Jelly Belly, at 24:08

97. Alejandro Acton (Arg), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, at 25:01

98. Brian Vandborg (Dk), Discovery Channel, at 25:18

99. Hinault Sébastien (F), Credit Agricole, at 28:29

100. Jeremy Powers (USA), Jelly Belly, at 29:42

101. Marc Jean Marc (F), Credit Agricole, at 30:03

102. Edward King (USA), Priority Health-Bissell, at 30:55

103. Antonio Cruz (USA), Discovery Channel, at 31:48

104. Graeme Brown (Aus), Rabobank, at 33:22

105. Ivan Dominguez (Cub), Toyota United, at 35:17

106. Tyler Wren (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, at 35:57

107. Henk Vogels (Aus), Toyota United, at 36:38

108. Caleb Manion (USA), Toyota United, at 37:18

109. Caleb Fairly (USA), U-23 National Team, at 39:49

110. Sean Sullivan (Aus), Toyota United, at 40:26

111. Garrett Peltonen (USA), Priority Health-Bissell, at 40:57

112. Davide Frattini (I), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, at 43:03

113. Ken Hanson (USA), BMC, at 43:24

Stage results

1. Ivan Dominguez (Cub), Toyota United,147.7km in 2:39:28

2. Graeme Brown (Aus), Rabobank, s.t.

3. Gerald Ciolek (G), T-Mobile, s.t.

4. Luca Paolini (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, s.t.

5. Robert Förster (G), Gerolsteiner, s.t.

6. Thor Hushovd (Nor), Credit Agricole, s.t.

7. Fred Rodriguez (USA), Predictor-Lotto, s.t.

8. Henk Vogels (Aus), Toyota United, s.t.

9. Brice Jones (USA), Jelly Belly, s.t.

10. Juan José Haedo(Arg), CSC, s.t.

11. Alejandro Acton (Arg), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, s.t.

12. Paolo Bettini (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, s.t.

13. Nicolar Reistad (USA), Jelly Belly, s.t.

14. Alexander Candelario (USA), Jelly Belly, s.t.

15. Garrett Peltonen (USA), Priority Health-Bissel, s.t.l

16. Viktar Rapinski (Blr), Navigators Insurance, s.t.

17. Enrico Gasparotto (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, s.t.

18. Veleriy Kobzarenko (Ukr), Navigators Insurance, s.t.

19. Russell Downing (GB), Health Net Maxxis, s.t.

20. Josep Jufre Pou (Sp), Predictor-Lotto, s.t.

21. Michael Barry (Can), T-Mobile, s.t.

22. Stuart O'Grady (Aus), CSC, s.t.

23. Taylor Tolleson (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, s.t.

24. Peter Hatton (Aus), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, s.t.

25. Bram De Groot (Nl), Rabobank, s.t.

26. Brent Bookwalter (USA), U-23 National Team, s.t.

27. Sven Krauss (G), Gerolsteiner, s.t.

28. Dimitri Fofonov (Kaz), Credit Agricole, s.t.

29. Bram Tankink (Nl), Quick Step-Innergetic, s.t.

30. Ben Day (Aus), Navigators Insurance, s.t.

31. Ardila Cano Mauricio Alberto (Col), Rabobank, s.t.

32. Jens Voigt (G), CSC, s.t.

33. Chris Wherry (USA), Toyota United, s.t.

34. Kirk O'Bee (USA), Health Net Maxxis, s.t.

35. Ryder Hesjedal (Can), Health Net Maxxis, s.t.

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

37. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Discovery Channel, s.t.

38. Jurgen Van De Walle (B), Quick Step-Innergetic, s.t.

39. Michael Rogers (Aus), T-Mobile, s.t.

40. Geert Verheyen (B), Quick Step-Innergetic, s.t.

41. Christopher Horner (USA), Predictor-Lotto, s.t.

42. Caleb Fairly (USA), U-23 National Team, s.t.

43. Franco Pellizotti (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, s.t.

44. Jeremy Powers (USA), Jelly Belly, s.t.

45. Antonio Cruz (USA), Discovery Channel, s.t.

46. Mathew Hayman (Aus), Rabobank, s.t.

47. Jakob Piil (Dk), T-Mobile, s.t.

48. Mads Kaggestad (Nor), Credit Agricole, s.t.

49. Fabian Wegmann (G), Gerolsteiner, s.t.

50. Volker Ordowski (G), Gerolsteiner, s.t.

51. Cyril Lemoine (F), Credit Agricole, s.t.

52. Thomas Danielson (USA), Discovery Channel, s.t.

53. Christophe Kern (F), Credit Agricole, s.t.

54. Shawn Milne (USA), Health Net Maxxis, s.t.

55. Lucas Euser (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, s.t.

56. Jonathan Patrick McCarty (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, s.t.

57. Anthony Colby (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, s.t.

58. Jason McCartney (USA), Discovery Channel, s.t.

59. Davide Frattini (I), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, s.t.

60. Mauro Facci (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, s.t.

61. Bernhard Kohl (A), Gerolsteiner, s.t.

62. Jason Donald (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, s.t.

63. Danny Pate (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, s.t.

64. Peter Wrolich (A), Gerolsteiner, s.t.

65. William Frischkorn (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, s.t.

66. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC, s.t.

67. Kim Kirchen (Lux), T-Mobile, s.t.

68. Christian Vandevelde (USA), CSC, s.t.

69. Oliver Zaugg (Swi), Gerolsteiner, s.t.

70. Bart Dockx (B), Predictor-Lotto, s.t.

71. Christopher Baldwin (USA), Toyota United, s.t.

72. Hinault Sébastien (F), Credit Agricole, s.t.

73. Mario Aerts (B), Predictor-Lotto, s.t.

74. Robert Gesink (Nl), Rabobank, s.t.

75. Matteo Tosatto (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, s.t.

76. Edward King (USA), Priority Health-Bissell, s.t.

77. Brian Vandborg (Dk), Discovery Channel, s.t.

78. Karl Menzies (Aus), Health Net Maxxis, s.t.

79. Benjamin (USA), Priority Health-Bissell, s.t.

80. Thomas Peterson (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, s.t.

81. Tyler Wren (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, s.t.

82. Caleb Manion (USA), Toyota United, s.t.

83. Timothy Johnson (USA), Health Net Maxxis, s.t.

84. Jan Grischa Jan (G), Rabobank, s.t.

85. Christophe Laurent (F), Credit Agricole, s.t.

86. Theo Eltink (Nl), Rabobank, s.t.

87. Matthew Lloyd (Aus), Predictor-Lotto, s.t.

88. Adam Hansen (Aus), T-Mobile, s.t.

89. Ivan Basso (I), Discovery Channel, s.t.

90. David Vitoria (Swi), BMC, s.t.

91. Kyle Gritters (USA), Health Net Maxxis, s.t.

92. Justin England (USA), Toyota United, s.t.

93. Greg Henderson (NZl), T-Mobile, s.t.

94. Andrew Bajadali (USA), Jelly Belly, s.t.

95. Manuel Quinziato (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, s.t.

96. Alexandre Moos (Swi), BMC, s.t.

97. Charly Wegelius (GB), Liquigas-Bianchi, s.t.

98. Michael Rasmussen (Dk), Rabobank, s.t.

99. Darren Lill (RSA), Navigators Insurance, s.t.

100. Mauro Da Dalto (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, a 0:16

101. Kjell Carlstrøm(FIN), Liquigas-Bianchi, s.t.

102. Ken Hanson (USA), BMC, at 0:25

103. Steven Cozza (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:31

104. Karsten Kroon (Nl), CSC, at 0:38

105. Giovanni Visconti (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, s.t.

106. Aaron Olsen (USA), T-Mobile, s.t.

107. Philip Zajicek (USA), Navigators Insurance, s.t.

108. Nicolas Gates (Aus), Predictor-Lotto, s.t.

109. Sergey Lagutin (UZB), Navigators Insurance, at 0:49

110. Jackson Stewart (USA), BMC, s.t.

111. Marc Jean Marc (F), Credit Agricole, at 1:03

112. Sean Sullivan (Aus), Toyota United, at 1:49

113. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), CSC, at 1:55

DNF:

Bryce Mead (USA), Jelly Belly

Brian Dziewa (USA), Jelly Belly