Road

On Tap at AToC, Stage 2: Chasing Mancebo

It’s hard to imagine a more scenic race start than a crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge, which is exactly how stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California kicks off. The 115.9-mile stage from Sausalito down the coast to Santa Cruz is something right out of a tourism book, visiting San Francisco streets, redwood forests and miles and miles of Pacific Ocean coastline.

Rock Racing rider’s stage 1 win turns conventional wisdom on its head

By Ben Delaney

It's looking like another wet ride today.

It’s looking like another wet ride today.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

It’s hard to imagine a more scenic race start than a crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge, which is exactly how stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California kicks off. The 115.9-mile stage from Sausalito down the coast to Santa Cruz is something right out of a tourism book, visiting San Francisco streets, redwood forests and miles and miles of Pacific Ocean coastline.

The stage also features two categorized climbs of 2,000-plus vertical feet each, Tunitas Creek Road and Bonny Doon Road, near the stage’s end. After topping out on Bonny Doon, riders descend the last 13 miles of the day into the finish in Santa Cruz.

Forecasted showers for the day could again affect the racing.

Stage 1 pics

Using the highly scientific method of arguing over drinks, the VeloNews editorial team assembled the following predictions for the stage podium:

1. Rory Sutherland (OUCH). WHY: Team OUCH had three men including Sutherland in the select chase group on Sunday, then suffered two flat tires. Sutherland is riding well, and is motivated to strike back.

2. George Hincapie (Columbia-Highroad). WHY: Hincapie is on form and can sprint out of a group that climb. With two ill-timed flats in two days, he’s irritated and looking for redemption. The question is how much work he has to do for his teammates Rogers and Lövkvist first.

3. Lance Armstrong (Astana). WHY: The guy is clearly riding well. Once he and his Astana teammates have safely delivered team captain Leipheimer into the finale, why shouldn’t he go for the stage? He sits in fifth on general classification.

THE PRIOR PICKS
We had Sunday’s stage pegged as one for the sprinters, and clearly lost our shirt, voting for Cavendish, Boonen and Freire. Our celebrity call for the day came from retired pro Kimberly Baldwin, wife of Rock Racing’s Chris Baldwin. Once Mancebo was clear, she called the podium as Mancebo, JJ Haedo and Cavendish.

Using our tried-and-true scoring system from the Tour de France, where you get 1 point for the right name in the wrong podium spot, and 3 points for the right name in the right spot, score is now VeloNews 0, Kim Baldwin 3. Man, we’re hurting here.
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After Sunday’s brutal stage, the hunt for the general classification has slimmed drastically. Coming into the race, common wisdom held that the race would be won in the Solvang time trial by a rider who could also climb well. Francisco Mancebo flipped the switch. With his solo effort, Mancebo put more than a minute into the top contenders.

Two-time defending champion Levi Leipheimer (Astana) sits in second on GC, 62 seconds back. There are only 18 seconds of separation from Leipheimer back through 18th place (Andy Schleck of Saxo Bank), but all those men are more than a minute down on Mancebo. From there, it falls off steeply with most of the peloton being at least five minutes back.

Those still in the hunt for a GC podium spot include:
David Zabriskie and Tom Danielson (Garmin-Slipstream)
Michael Rogers and Thomas Lövkvist (Columbia-Highroad)
Leipheimer, Lance Armstrong, Chris Horner, José Luis Rubiera and Steve Morabito (Astana)
Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas)
Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema (Rabobank)
Mancebo and Oscar Sevilla (Rock Racing)
Jens Voigt and Schleck (Saxo Bank)
Jurgen Van De Walle and Kevin Seeldraeyers (Quick Step)

With the battle on in no uncertain terms for the final victory, there will be no easy win on today’s stage. Today’s champion will have to climb well and descend confidently in the rain before unleashing a sprint in Santa Cruz.

In addition to following our live text coverage of the stage 2 as it unfolds and results and stories afterward, be sure to check out our new video show, VeloCenter, for analysis, highlights and tech features from each day’s stage.