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Amgen Tour of California Stage 2 Team & Rider Comments
By Vaughn Trevi
Date: 2/22/2006
Amgen Tour of California Stage 2 Team & Rider Comments

Amgen Tour of California Stage 2Teams & Riders Comments

O’Neill poised for a run at the overall in California.
Nathan O’Neill of the Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis dug deep on the final grueling climb of Stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California to finish with the elite front group in San Jose.

“It was definitely a hard day,” O’Neill said. “Levi (Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner) put a lot of people in difficulty on the last climb up Sierra Road.”

The fireworks actually started on the second to last climb of the day, going over Calaveras Road just after coming out of the town of Sunol. With a break of three riders, who had been away since the first KoM in Lafayette just 12 miles into the stage, still over three minutes up the road, Discovery and CSC put their guys on the front and strung out the pack on the long, gradual climb up Calaveras. “It was fairly civilized up until then,” O’Neill commented. “But I guess they wanted to pick up the pace and shed some guys.”

The two Pro Tour teams succeeded, shredding the peloton and softening the pack for the final climb. Until that point, Gerolsteiner had been riding tempo, content to let the break go up the road. But the higher tempo also meant the beginning of the end for the break-away.

When the diminished field got to the base of Sierra, a four-mile suffer-fest of a climb with an average grade of over 10%, the fireworks really started to go off. The break still had a gap of around two minutes, but they had been off the front for the better part of 60 miles and it came down quickly.

“Leading into the bottom of the climb it was crazy. It was like a bunch of lead-out trains,” O’Neill said. “Gerolsteiner was lined up. United was lined up. A lot of guys hit out really hard at the base of the Sierra climb and just blew up along the way.

“I tried to ride within myself. I got a good rhythm and sure enough, within a couple kilometers, I was starting to pick guys off. I was able to ride up to and through the second group on the road, and then up to the first group. By then, I didn’t have too many bullets left in the chamber, but I knew that once I was over the top, I could take a couple deep breaths and catch on to the front group.”

It was a very small front group, with Leipheimer and Floyd Landis (Phonak) being joined by Bobby Julich (CSC), but everybody was having trouble hanging onto Levi’s wheel. However, the small chase group quickly re-joined the three leaders, and by the bottom of the descent, the second group had integrated and the bunch was up to 22.

Levi and Sayers at the start Stage Photo c. Andrew Rogers &

Coming into the finish, Discovery had the numbers and was able to set up George Hincapie for the stage win, and the 10-second time bonus that came with it – enough to take the leader’s jersey away from Leipheimer. O’Neill finished 18th, five seconds behind Hincapie, after a slight split occurred in the approach to the finish line. He now sits in 18th overall, 26 seconds back of Hincapie.
“We’ll see what happens Wednesday with the time trial,” he added. “All the top guys are within striking distance.”

Notes: Hayden Roulston, who came into the stage 8th overall, finished 43rd at 3:22 behind Hincapie. He now sits 25th overall at 3:37. Nevada

As soon as the Amgen Tour of California announced that its second stage would finish in his hometown of San Jose, Nevada's Ben Jacques-Maynes began preparations to leave his mark on the race.

And when the dust settled after 95 miles of racing over some of the most difficult terrain in the Bay Area, Jacques-Maynes could be proud of his aggressive ride in a 60-mile breakaway with TIAA-CREF's Michael Creed and Credit Agricole's Mads Kaggestad.

Jacques-Maynes related after the stage, “I went away on the KOM over Happy Valley Road and flew down the hill to bridge across to [Creed and Kaggestad]. We started cooperating immediately and the gap went wide open. The first time check we heard was 1'30" and then next was four minutes! We were pretty surprised that the gap went up to six minutes, but I wasn't surprised by how quickly it came down - I know how hard the ProTour teams can chase.”

Indeed, the Gerolsteiner-led field swept up the three leaders on the lower slopes of the Category 1 climb of Sierra Road, around 15 miles from the finish.

Said Racing Manager Jonas Carney, “The plan was to get Ben in an early break so he could take advantage of his knowledge of the local roads and get to the top of the climb before the heavy hitters. He didn't quite make it and they caught him pretty early on the climb, but the plan was executed perfectly. I'm happy with how Ben rode but against this level of competition you have to try everything. Most of the time you'll come up empty-handed but you have to keep trying and that's what we're doing.”

In the end, Jacques-Maynes finished 31st on the day, rolling into San Jose in the second group, 3'20” behind stage winner and overall leader George Hincapie (Discovery Channel). The Nevada rider now sits in 23rd overall going into tomorrow morning's time trial in San Jose.
View Photo Album at Kodak Gallery

Bobke and California Tour Angel photo c. Andrew Rogers &

Team CSC Hangs In for Tough Stage 2
American Levi Leipheimer wanted to take the toughest climb of the Tour of California and he did, dropping all contenders on the way up Sierra Road near San Jose. But it was a long way to the finish line—the favorites caught up on the flats and fellow American George Hincapie won Stage 2 and the race's golden jersey.

Gerolsteiner's Leipheimer had trained extensively for the Tour of California, which he helped plan. When the race hit the Category 1 Sierra Road climb in the final third of the 94.1-mile ride from Martinez to San Jose, he tore the peloton apart with his attack. Team CSC fell off the back, first Bobby Julich and then David Zabriskie. Only Floyd Landis of Phonak and Bernard Kohl of T-Mobile could follow Leipheimer to the summit.

"I knew from the training that I’ve done that I couldn’t really go with the first group but I knew I needed to keep up the speed so that at least I could be in the second group and then come back if the groups did come back together," Julich said.

Zabriskie and Davitomon-Lotto's Cadel Evans crested the summit less just ten seconds later, however, and a chase group of 22 that included several members of Team CSC and Discovery Channel eventually formed around them. Soon after the race reached level ground, the lead trio was caught. Julich and CSC's Christian Vande Velde attacked from the front of the lead group, but Discovery controlled the pace to the finish line and set up the win for Hincapie, a powerful sprinter.

Bobby J and Jens Voight photo c Andrew Rogers &

"If Leipheimer and Landis had waited for Zabriskie, they might have made it to the finish line alone," Team CSC sport director Scott Sunderland said, noting that if Zabriskie had been in the lead group CSC would have had no motivation to chase the leaders. Sunderland also said he was pleased that Zabriskie was able to stay so close to a climber like Leipheimer.

Hincapie's 10-second time bonus for the win gives him the leader's jersey for tomorrow's stage. But virtually all of the pre-race favorites, including Zabriskie and Julich, finished with the lead group, so the race is still wide open.

The hilly stage had its early share of drama courtesy of a three-man breakaway that included Mike Creed of TIAA-CREF, Ben Jacques-Maynes of Nevada, and Mads Kaggestad of Credit Agricole. Jacques-Maynes, a local boy, knew the terrain and wanted to take advantage of his knowledge of it. The break lasted all the way to the foot of the Sierra Road climb, but was quickly swallowed up by the fresher lead riders.

No stage of the inaugural Tour of California ends on a summit finish, so the deciding stage will likely be tomorrow's 17-mile individual time trial on the outskirts of San Jose. Leipheimer, Landis, Hincapie are all strong time trialists — but then, so are CSC's Zabriskie and Julich. "We've got about as big a chance as anyone at this moment," Sunderland said. "I think Dave can do a big time trial. He's really motivated."

Bobby Julich on Stage 2:
What did you think of the course today?
It was a beautiful day and very scenic. That climb was definitely one of the hardest climbs I’ve done in America. It was a very steep one so I was glad that it all came back together, but it made for some pretty dramatic racing today.

What was going through your head during the last climb?
Yeah, the last climb of the day, what was going though my mind was just to stay in a good group and I knew from the training that I’ve done that I couldn’t really go with the first group but I knew I needed to keep up the speed so that at least I could be in the second group and then come back if the groups did come back together. And it did and it worked out. Oh, and we had three in the front group so we couldn’t have asked for much more.

Bobby in Green c.Andrew Rogers

What was your strategy and did it change at all during the race?
No, we just wanted to make sure we didn’t lose major amounts of time before tomorrow’s time trial and that was mission achieved for that. We lost 10 seconds to Hincapie in the sprint and now he’s the overall leader, but we didn’t lose time, myself or David Zabriskie, and tomorrow will pretty much decide the race. But with Hincapie and Leipheimer behind David and I it’s going to be difficult to do any better.

So far how does Tour of California compare to other stage races that you’ve been in?
I tell you, so far so good. I’m totally impressed with everything so far. The weather has been great, the crowds have been incredible and I cannot find a single problem with it. I mean, we have much better food than the races in Europe, much better hotels than the races in Europe and much better weather than the races in Europe. So I see this race taking off very fast.

Amgen Tour of California Report

More Than 150,000 Fans Watch Major Classification Shake-Up
With the Amgen Tour of California on track to become the largest attended cycling event held on American soil as well as the most attended spectator sporting event in California history, American cyclist George Hincapie of Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team proved strongest in today’s grueling 95-mile mountain stage from Martinez to San Jose. With more than 150,000 fans lining the route, Hincapie captured the stage win and the overall Amgen Leader Jersey in the inaugural international professional cycling which launched February 19 and will continue daily through February 26.

Following three neutral laps through picturesque downtown Martinez, Mike Creed (USA) of Team TIAA-CREF broke away from the peloton nine miles into the race. After taking maximum points at the Union Bank of California King of the Mountain (KOM) climb up Happy Valley Road, San Jose native Ben Jacques-Maynes ( Nevada) and Credit Agricole’s Mads Kaggestad (NOR) bridged to create a dedicated break of three riders. The trio gained a maximum advantage of 5’50” before the Gerolsteiner and T-Mobile led field began to slowly reel in the escapees over the Calaveras Road Climb.

The race turned on the Category One climb to Sierra Road. The steep 3.5-mile road proved the ideal launching pad for the pre-race favorites. By the California Travel and Tourism KOM line, a new group of established a lead – race leader Levi Leipheimer, Floyd Landis (USA) of Phonak and California Travel and Tourism KOM competition leader Bernhard Kohl (GER) from T-Mobile. The three stretched their lead to 30 seconds on the descent before a chase group of 16 closed the gap. George Hincapie (USA) benefited from the work of his Discovery teammates Michael Barry (CAN), Jason McCartney (USA) and Tom Danielson (USA) and crossed the finish line ahead of Davitamon-Lotto riders Chris Horner (USA) and Josep Jufre Pou (ESP).

Finishing in fourth place, Gerolsteiner’s Levi Leipheimer (USA) lost his overall lead by 4” to Hincapie based on the 10” bonus for the win. With the top-five riders still within 13” of one another, the undulating Stage Three time trial held Wednesday on the outskirts of San Jose should give more definition to the overall classification.

We wanted to try to make the race hard with two climbs to go. But that climb was really hard,” said Hincapie following the stage. “Floyd and Levi are obviously very strong right now and I think they’ve done a lot of recon on the courses, they live here, so they probably knew what to expect. I think they’re climbing a lot better than I was today. But I stayed close, I stayed with my teammates and I knew that one we got together it would be tough for anybody to beat me. It can down to a sprint and I was pretty confident that I could win it.”

“Amgen is so proud of George Hincapie’s breakaway moment when he sprinted across the finish line,” said Kathryn West, advocacy director, Amgen. “It was especially meaningful to present him with the Amgen Leader Jersey given his selfless efforts to raise awareness and support for people who are affected by cancer.”

Launched in December 2005 as a partnership between Amgen, The Wellness Community and George Hincapie, the Breakaway from Cancer initiative is a complementary component of Amgen’s title sponsorship of the Amgen Tour of California. The initiative includes a series of free workshops designed to help people who are affected by cancer learn about new treatments, side effects, support networks and educational resources.

In addition to taking the overall race lead, Hincapie also took the lead in the Clif Bar Sprint Competition and will wear the Clif Bar Sprint jersey during Stage Two. Kohn remains in the California Travel and Tourism King of the Mountain Jersey, while Tom Peterson (USA) of Team TIAA-CREF took the Union Bank Best Young Rider Jersey. American Mike Creed of Team TIAA-CREF earned the Adobe Most Aggressive Rider Jersey for his role in the breakaway.

“We continue to be thrilled with the tremendous support from the great California fans we have seen every day in record numbers,” said Shawn Hunter, President, AEG Sports, presenters of the Amgen Tour of California. “I truly believe that years from now, fans of this great sport will look back upon this event as a true moment of truth that played a significant role in the development of road cycling as a major sports competition. With records for largest-ever crowds for both a cycling race and an athletic event held in the state of California on track to be broken, we can easily witness first-hand the popularity of cycling to an incredibly broad and diverse group of all ages.”

For more full results, official times and archived footage, photos and play-by-play from today’s stage of the Amgen Tour of California, please visit the official race website at

A one-hour race recap will be broadcast on ESPN2 tonight at  10 p.m. PST.
Still to come this week:
Wednesday, Feb. 22 – Stage 3, San Jose Time Trial
Estimated Start Time: 11 a.m.
Estimated Finish Time: 2 p.m.

ABOUT AMGEN: Amgen discovers, develops and delivers innovative human therapeutics. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realize the new science's promise by bringing safe and effective medicines from lab, to manufacturing plant, to patient. Amgen therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other serious illnesses. With a broad and deep pipeline of potential new medicines, Amgen remains committed to advancing science to dramatically improve people's lives. To learn more about our pioneering science and our vital medicines, visit <>

ABOUT AEG: AEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Anschutz Corporation, owns or controls a collection of companies including facilities such as STAPLES Center, The Home Depot Center, The Manchester Evening News Arena and NOKIA Theatre Times Square; sports franchises including the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), five Major League Soccer franchises, two hockey franchises operated in Europe, management of privately held shares of the Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) and Los Angdeles Sparks (WNBA) and the Amgen Tour of California cycling road race debuting in San Francisco on February 19th; AEG LIVE, the organization’s live-entertainment division, is a collection of companies dedicated to all aspects of live contemporary music performance, touring and a variety of programming and multi-media production. Additionally, the company has begun fully developing the 28-acre Millennium Dome and adjacent property located in the eastern part of London along the Thames River and will create the O2, a new arena within the ‘Dome’ and additional arenas, on a 50-acre site in the heart of Berlin and Spring Center in Kansas City, Missouri; stadiums in Bridgeview, Illinois and Harrison, New Jersey. For more information, visit AEG today at


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