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Tour of California Stage 1: Live Coverage – See how the race unfolded

10:43 AM: Good day . . .And welcome to VeloNews.com's Live Coverage of Stage 1 of the 2008 Amgen Tour of California.

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  • 10:43 AM: Good day . . .
    And welcome to VeloNews.com’s Live Coverage of Stage 1 of the 2008 Amgen Tour of California.

    The peloton is lining up in downtown Sausalito, California, for a stage that is virtually identical to the first mass-start stage in last year’s race. This is a 96.8-mile stage, covering a route along a scenic route up Highway 1, otherwise known as the Pacific Coast Highway, before turning inland on a trip to today’s finish in Santa Rosa, home of last year’s overall winner Levi Leipheimer.

    The stage begins with a climb from Mill Valley to Mt. Tamalpais State Park and then heads toward Muir Beach and then on a fairly flat route to Bodega Bay. There is a Category 3 climb along the way, the ascent up Coleman road, but that shouldn’t present too many issues for most of the field. We did, however, see a few riders encounter problems last year, with then-CSC rider David Zabriskie hitting the deck on the descent. He pulled out of the race because of that mishap.

  • 10:53 AM: That killer finishing circuit
    One thing to watch for today is the finishing circuit in Santa Rosa. As you might recall, there was a horrible crash last year when Gerald Ciolek of T-Mobile (now Team High Road) hit one of the traffic dots (called “turtles”) used to remind drivers that they are drifting out of their lanes. Ciolek was sitting about six riders from the front when he lost his grip on the bars as his wheel jerked sideways as the peloton entered the first of three laps on the circuit. He took out Quick Step’s Matteo Tosatto, who was to his right, and the pair caused a huge, high-speed pileup. The crash split the field and led to a still-controversial commissaires’ decision to neutralize the laps around the circuit and award the leader’s jersey to Leipheimer, though he had lost more than a minute after being delayed by the pileup. You can revisit that stage report and photos of the carnage by clicking here.
  • 10:56 AM: Another nice day out there
    Today’s weather forecast suggests that, like last year, wind and rain won’t be a factor in this stage. There was some patchy morning fog, which is not unusual for the Bay Area at this time of year, but things have cleared up over the morning and temperatures are expected to be in the mid-50s today, with only a few clouds on the horizon in Sausalito. Up in Santa Rosa, the picture is even better, with clear skies and temperatures expected to hit the 60s. The wind may pick up in the afternoon, but it’s from the west, and the predicted breeze of 10 to 15 mph would serve as a tailwind as the peloton heads inland to the finish. With the finishing circuit in town, the wind won’t really be a factor there, either. Preliminary forecasts suggest that there might be a slight chance of rain tomorrow, but there is no sign of precipitation for today.
  • 11:03 AM: The man in yellow
    CSC’s Fabian Cancellara has a healthy four-second lead after yesterday’s prologue time trial victory in Palo Alto.

    If he wants to keep that jersey, Cancellara may have to keep an eye on things when the peloton hits the three intermediate sprint marks at Point Reyes Station (at 27 miles), Tomales (at 42 miles) and Bodega Bay (at 59 miles), where the usual 3-, 2- and 1-second time bonuses are awarded. He may have to contend with a motivated Leipheimer, who has always enjoyed scoring the yellow jersey in his hometown. Leipheimer, the winner of last year’s prologue, sits in fourth place, six seconds behind Cancellara in the overall standings.

  • 11:06 AM: And we’re off!
    A reminder that spring is a ways off yet: plenty of arm warmers and even a few vests in the peloton.
  • 11:08 AM: Jolly cyclists on parade
    The peloton is rolling along for a short trip through the neutral zone, passing through downtown Sausalito before the formal start on the outskirts of town.
  • 11:15 AM: Still in the neutral zone.
    It’s a long one on this stage.
  • 11:25 AM: And they’re off
    The Neutral zone is finished and the peloton is en-route.
  • 11:27 AM: The pace is still moderate
    on the day’s fist climb, a little rise up to Mount Tamalpais State Park. CSC is up front keeping an eye on things for the man in yellow.
  • 11:30 AM: Keep an eye on
    another Fabian today. Fabian Wegmann is riding with an all electric Dura-Ace system on his bike today. We’ll save you the trouble of trying to catch a glimpse on the highlight video. Just take a gander right here.
  • 11:36 AM: 2.5 miles covered
    and 94.3 to go. The pace remains quite moderate. One measure of that may be that we are seeing Mario Cippolini up front and we’re on a climb. Rock is back to its Black Kit. They were all wearing TT suits with green highlights yesterday, which caused us to remember taking our kids to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.
  • 11:42 AM: Still stretching their legs
    It’s still mostly CSC up front. We see the bulk of the Danish team up front keeping an eye on things for Cancellara. We’re not expecting a lot of action this early in the stage. With bonus time on the line we could see some action at all three sprint marks.
  • 11:48 AM: Over the day’s first hump
    The peloton is at the coast and about 10 miles into the day’s stage. Ahead, we’ll see moderately rolling terrain, but for the most part it’s a pretty easy ride into Santa Rosa today.
  • 11:54 AM: We have a little action
    There is a small group off the front, with BMC’s Jackson Stewart setting the tempo … well, never mind. It’s just Stewart. Meanwhile, Theresa Coursey, a two-time breast cancer survivor, who’ll be doing The Breakaway Mile ride in Santa Rosa with her husband, Chris, one of Patrick O’Grady’s old college roomies.
  • 11:56 AM: With 84 miles remaining
    Stewart is off the front and the pace is still a very moderate 18mph.
  • 11:59 AM: Happy to see him go
    Jackson Stewart is now on his own and facing nice 84-mile solo ride, if he hopes to keep this going to the finish. He’s now 55 seconds ahead of the main field and there is no organized chase going on.
  • 12:03 PM: Stewart at 1:00
    Jackson Stewart has about 1:00 on the main field. So he’s the virtual leader on the road. The guys in the peloton are eating, taking it easy and not too worried about the break and the temporary change in race leadership.
  • 12:10 PM: Mr. Stewart
    Jackson Stewart is still out there, now enjoying a lead of 2:34.
  • 12:18 PM: Stewart
    is plowing along and holding a nice little gap. These head-banger breaks succeed now-and-then, so we’re not going to write off his chances, but we wouldn’t bet the rent.
  • 12:21 PM: Word from the peloton
    Bad news for Rock Racing is that Michael Creed is fighting a stomach bug that kept him up all night in the bathroom. Creed is just hoping to hang on today, so he can make it to the finish and get some needed sack time. We’re rootin’ for him, since his friends and family reported that Creed, “looked like crap this morning.”

    We hope he recovers.

  • 12:24 PM: CSC
    is still up front, with the Saunier Duval team up there with them. Stewart is at the 19-mile mark and the peloton is around 1:45 back. We should get a formal time check in a few minutes.
  • 12:28 PM: Stewart
    is now five kilometers to the day’s first sprint mark. The sign on the timing motorcycle shows that his lead is up to 5:00, but the GPS data shows otherwise. Indeed, we’re inclined to believe the former, since his pace is considerably higher than that of a generally relaxed peloton.
  • 12:32 PM: Stewart is chatting with his director
    That’s John Lelangue in the car, if we saw right. He was the guy at the wheel during that epic Stage 17 solo ride turned in by Floyd Landis in the 2006 Tour de France. Those two, however, have had a very vocal dispute since Landis’s positive, which has left him in that awful limbo since he learned of it.
  • 12:35 PM: Stewart hits the sprint
    at Point Reyes. He gets three seconds of bonus time and reports suggest his lead is now up to eight minutes. We apologize for the inconsistent time check. We should get a good one when the peloton comes in to contest those remaining two spots.
  • 12:40 PM: We’re hearing reports
    that Stewart’s gap has extended to more than 10 minutes. The peloton is still taking it pretty easy, while Stewart is in time trial mode as he cruises along one of this country’s most storied stretches of asphalt.
  • 12:46 PM: The gap
    Race radio reports that the gap is now at 11:30 and the peloton is just now coming into Point Reyes. The sprinters are charging in for the final two bonus spots. Mark Cavendish and Fred Rodriguez took those.
  • 12:48 PM: It was just under 11:30
    when the peloton hit Point Reyes. This is an impressive effort by Stewart today.
  • 12:49 PM: CSC
    is now stepping up the pace. This is a sign that their willing to put in the effort necessary to close this gap, which is now approaching 12 minutes.
  • 12:52 PM: In single file
    The peloton is completely strung out, with CSC setting the pace up front.
  • 01:00 PM: The gap
    Is now down to 9:33 with CSC now driving a serious chase.
  • 01:02 PM: CSC at the helm
    The Danish team is taking on its full duties as the team of the yellow jersey. They have the full crew up front.
  • 01:05 PM: Stewart
    is still ticking along quite nicely on his own and several in the peloton are pulling over to water a bit of the local flora.
  • 01:09 PM: No break Stewart
    With some of the guys in the peloton getting back on their bikes after that nature break, Stewart gets no such reprieve. He’s now heading toward the day’s second sprint at Tomales. The gap is growing again.
  • 01:13 PM: Brooke Miller
    won the inaugural Tour of California women’s criterium in downtown Santa Rosa. We’ll have a full report on that race on VeloNews.com later today.
  • 01:15 PM: The sprint at Tomales
    Stewart gets the three-second bonus, with 1:49:42 of racing completed so far today. Let’s see when the peloton comes to town.
  • 01:17 PM: Toyota United
    is moving up to the front of the field. They are coming up to lend a hand to CSC in the chase.
  • 01:19 PM: Quick Step
    is now moving up, too. Indeed, there is only one CSC rider taking pulls at the front of the peloton right now.
  • 01:22 PM: Tick, tick, tick
    We’re coming up on eight minutes since Stewart hit the sprint and the peloton is still a long way from town.
  • 01:26 PM: Heading into Tomales
    and the peloton is now led by team High Road… but these guys are nearly 12 minutes off of Stewart’s time. Cavendish takes the sprint for second and Tyler Farrar takes third.
  • 01:29 PM: Feed Zone
    The peloton is heading into the Feed Zone, so it could be a bit before the serious chase work begins. They have 51 miles in which to cut into Jackson Stewart’s 12-minute advantage.
  • 01:32 PM: CSC’s Kroon is setting the pace
    up front. Behind him, there are riders from other teams up there lending a hand.
  • 01:40 PM: Time Check
    Jackson Stewart (BMC) has extended his lead to 13 minutes. This is impressive. We see a mix of teams up front in the peloton, but they are going to have to step up the pace if they want to negate this big gap.
  • 01:47 PM: The peloton
    is not making a lot of progress in the effort to reel in the man who is bound to repeat his 2006 stage 1 most aggressive rider award. He’s now heading to the day’s third sprint.
  • 01:49 PM: Slipstream
    Has now moved several riders up to the front of the main field.
  • 01:52 PM: The pace
    in the peloton is still fairly relaxed. Right now we see Bobby Julich and Levi Leipheimer chatting. Ahead, Stewart is still doing his Energizer Bunny imitation.
  • 01:57 PM: BMC
    While everyone now knows that Santa Rosa is home to Levi Leipheimer, it’s worth noting that it’s also the home town of Jackson Stewart’s BMC team. So it may not be the local boy who grabs the leader’s jersey in Santa Rosa, but it could be the local team that scores a win. Stewart is still holding on to a substantial lead of 12:15.
  • 02:04 PM: On his way up
    Stewart is now working his way up the day’s only rated climb. He’s finally looking a little worse for wear, but he’s been off the front for nearly sixty miles on his own.
  • 02:07 PM: There’s a familiar sight
    The weird helmet head character is out running along side Stewart. This time he has an elk rack on his football helmet. Mmmmmm…
  • 02:10 PM: Up and over
    Stewart is over the KOM point. He’s at least won the climber’s jersey now…. oh and there is the Big Hair Superfan. He’s been racing for 2:45:32.
  • 02:11 PM: The peloton
    is working its way up the narrow road on the climb. We’ll get a good time check when they reach the summit.
  • 02:13 PM: Stewart
    has about 30 miles remaining, so he has a big job ahead of him. Let’s see how much of a gap he has when the peloton reaches the summit.
  • 02:15 PM: The peloton
    is approaching the summit. There are gaps forming in the main field.
  • 02:18 PM: The peloton is over the top
    about 7:45 behind Stewart.
  • 02:21 PM: Less than 25 miles to go
    Stewart is coursing through the generally downhill haul to Santa Rosa. He’s at least earned the KOM jersey. He’s also on top of the sprint count, but that could change. He’s also earned nine seconds of bonus time today, having started 15 seconds out of the lead.
  • 02:26 PM: Stewart
    May have gotten a surge of energy from the realization that he’s closing in on Santa Rosa. He’s got less than a district TT championship to ride, so it should be easy… right?
  • 02:32 PM: When he hits town
    Stewart still has three trips around a 5-km loop around downtown Santa Rosa. Back in the field, the Slipstream boys are powering at the front and driving the chase.
  • 02:34 PM: The gap is coming down fast
    We don’t have a time check, but the pace is radically different, with a very tired Stewart likely to be caught by the edge of town today.
  • 02:37 PM: Quick Step
    is lending a hand in the chase now.
  • 02:38 PM: Stewart has
    a lead of just around 3:40.
  • 02:43 PM: Ouch
    The moto just came by with bad news. The gap is down to 1:03.
  • 02:47 PM: Correction
    The Gap is still a little more than we thought, but not by much. He’s 1:15 ahead of the field. We better start thinking about the sprinter we’ll be picking for the win today.
  • 02:50 PM: The gap is closing
    With Quick Step and Slipstream driving hard… the gap is now down to about 30 seconds. He can see the hounds on his heels.
  • 02:51 PM: It’s over
    He’s caught… after spending more than three hours off on his own.
  • 02:54 PM: Heading into town
    the peloton, under the power of High Road and Slipstream, is heading into town. Once they hit the edge of Santa Rosa, it’ll be 15km, three times around a 5km circuit.
  • 02:56 PM: 25km to go
    meaning the peloton is 10km from the edge of Santa Rosa
  • 02:59 PM: Splits in the field
    The main field has broken into three distinct groups. There is a main group, including most of the race leaders. The second group is at 50 seconds and the third is at around 2:00.
  • 03:03 PM: Danny Pate
    is driving hard at the front of the field. The gaps to the second and third groups are shrinking, but it still looks like the winner will emerge from this front group. We see a lot of the big fav’s in this front group, though.
  • 03:09 PM: That second group
    has a couple of favorites in there. Mario Cipollini is in there, as is Dominguez. Also stuck back there is Cavendish. It doesn’t look like they’re going to rejoin the leaders. Slipstream is still driving hard at the front, with the team working hard for Farrar, who is just a few seconds out of the lead. Back in the chase, there is little organization, as the lead group enters the first of three circuits. 15km to go!
  • 03:10 PM: Single file
    The speed is very high here and the peloton is flying along in single file.
  • 03:13 PM: Just flyin’
    The speed is well above 30mph. We still see Slipstream massed up front. Right behind them is a gaggle of CSC riders, with the yellow jersey in the middle of the bunch.
  • 03:15 PM: Coming through
    the start/finish area, meaning there are 10km to go. Quick Step and Slipstream are at the front of the main field.
  • 03:17 PM: CSC
    is keeping close watch on the front of the field. Rabobank is up there with Oscar Freire, the three-time world champion and a powerful sprinter. We also see Fred Rodriguez, who will have to grab on to someone else’s finishing train.
  • 03:22 PM: One lap to go
    CSC is moving up… but we can expect a big fight with Quick Step with both Boonen and Bettini in the field.
  • 03:24 PM: BMC sends a rider
    up the right side, but he’s caught. It was Moos.
  • 03:25 PM: Julich
    is now driving at the front…. this is going to be good folks.
  • 03:26 PM: Here they come
    It’s the last tun
  • 03:27 PM: Here they come
    It’s the last turn. … Boonen and Bettini leading into the final 500 meters.

    CSC comes up and JJ Haedo takes it!

  • 03:30 PM: What a sprint
    Haedo takes the win by about two bike lengths. We also saw a crash near the back of the field, involving George Hincapie. He looks okay, but has a bit of road rash on his left leg. Stay tuned for the results.
  • 03:39 PM: Top 3
    1. Juan Jose Haedo (CSC)
    2. Gerald Ciolek (High Road)
    3. Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner)
  • 03:43 PM: Okay folks
    Thank you for tuning in today. We had a good time working out the kinks on our aging fingers and we’re looking forward to bringing you Live up-to-the-minute reports from tomorrow’s stage, again, right here on VeloNews.com. Have a good evening and see you tomorrow.