Amgen Tour of California - Stage 1 Report
Another great day for the riders from "Down Under" Aussies Graeme Brown
relegated Kiwi "Hendy Henderson to second in a photo finish with mate Allan
Davis gaining the final step of the podium.
By Bart Hazen
Tour of California, Stage 1: Sausalito – Santa Rosa,
1 in the Tour of California is a relatively easy stage from Sausalito to Santa
Rosa over 155.7 km. Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel), winner of the prologue,
arrived again in the leaders jersey to his hometown Santa Rosa. Last year in the
same stage over 129 km it was Juan Jose Haedo, now riding for CSC, who won the
sprint ahead of Olaf Pollack and Stuart O’Grady.
On the first climb of the day on Mount Tam the following riders tried to
escape; Christopher Horner (Predictor-Lotto), Steven Cozza and William
Frischkorn (Team Slipstream powered by Chipotle), Robert Gesink (Rabobank),
Oliver Zaugg (Gerolsteiner) and Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step). Their maximum
gap was about 25 seconds but in the descent they where reeled in by the bunch
which was led by the Disco’s.
The next one who tried to escape was Alejandro Acton (Colavita Sutter Home).
He managed to stay away but was a bit unlucky in that he attacked just before
the first intermediate sprint. Acton was caught and Davis took the sprint ahead
of George Hincapie and Karl Menzies. At the second intermediate sprint it was
Davis who took the points and the boni seconds again, Hilton Clarke 2nd and
Alejandro Acton 3rd.
After the second sprint and the feed zone there where several attacks by
among others Gesink, Frischkorn, England, Frattini, World Champion Bettini,
Peter Hatton and Jason McCartney but Discovery stayed at the front and didn’t
any escape gain an advantage. But that’s not strange with the race leader riding
to his hometown. He hopes to defend the jersey but that will be difficult with
the time bonuses at the finish line.
The next one who attacked was Davide Frattini (Colavita Sutter Home). The
Italian had a maximum gap of about 40 seconds but just before the next KOM he
was swallowed up by the pack. But Frattini won the 3rd and final intermediate
sprint of the day ahead of Alejandro Acton and Brian Vandborg.
On the second climb of the day four riders attacked. The quartet: Jurgen Van
De Walle (Quick Step), Thomas Peterson (Team Slipstream powered by Chipotle),
Theo Eltink (Rabobank) and Adam Hansen (T-mobile). In this order they passed the
top of the climb claiming the KOM points.
After the climb Discovery and T-Mobile drove the chase on the four riders and
the gap was came down fast. Hansen and Eltink sat up and waited for the pack
while the Van De Walle and Peterson optimistically pressed their atttack. But
with 20 km to go the brave duo were absorbed by a peloton now intent on setting
up their sprinters for the finish.
Discovery Channel, Quick Step and T-Mobile set the pace in the bunch; a pace
too fast to for any riders to launch an attack. Any attempt at escape at this
speed would have been a suicidal effort against the pace of the three teams. .
In the local circuit there where several crashes but there was one major crash
in the penultimate lap where half the field went down.
About 50 riders escaped the crashes and formed the front group, while the
rest of the mangled peloton got back on their bikes again. Race leader Levi
Leipheimer did get caught up in the wreck but took up the chase hoping to save
his golden jersey of race leader. Discovery Channel sent riders to the back to
wait for Levi and escort him to the front. In the meantime CSC and Health Net
were quick to join with Quick Step and T-Mobile driving the front.
With 1 km to go, Leipheimer and his team mates came back in the back of the
first bunch. The stage ended up in a bunch sprint and it was Rabobank rider
Graeme Brown who takes the flowers ahead of T-Mobile’s Greg "Hendy" Henderson
and Discovery’s Allan Davis. Levi Leipheimer remains in the lead for the effort
of regaining the pack at the finish will start in the Golden Fleece for stage 2
in the morning.
1 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank 4.17.20
2 Greg Henderson (NZl) T-mobile
3 Allan Davis (Aus) Discovery Channel
Official results and photos to follow when available.