On the longest stage of the Amge
On the longest stage of the Amgen Tour of California, scenic coastlines,
constant attacks and hillsides that plunged down to the coast were new features
for this day of racing. But one thing that didn't change and that was the
fact that top sprinter JJ Haedo of the Toyota-United Pro Cycling team was able
to power around the last corner, come around "Fast" Freddie Rodriquez
(Davitamon-Lotto) and cross the line in first place for the second time in four
Catching a lot of people by surprise with his second win, JJ said he was also
a little surprised himself at his success, but that he had worked hard through
the winter to be in great shape for this race. "It's a new team, so you
have to work a little harder to get things done. You never know how things
will go, but so far it's been working great for us." The final corner at
300m before the finish might have taken some riders by surprise, but not Haedo,
as he and the team talked about that corner and determined the best position for
JJ to be in if he had the legs to take the sprint.
"I came into the corner 4th, and that corner was a little messy. People
were braking a lot. I ended up on Freddie Rodriquez' wheel and when I saw
I was at 200 meters I knew I had to go. I didn't wait too long. The
guys behind me were good so I had to go early. It was a little bit bumpy
the last 100 meters so I lost a lot of speed and Freddie came up pretty fast."
It had been a sprint to the last corner, so he held back a bit to get a better
line and as they applied their brakes he scooted to the better line and came
around Freddie and headed straight for the tape. This sprint differs from
Haedo's win in Stage 1 into Santa Rosa, as that sprint was a circuit final but
this was straight in with an up hill finish. Haedo said he couldn't really
compare the two since the stages themselves were so different. Fresh legs
were still in the peloton on Monday, but many miles have been covered by now,
and today's stage alone was 130 miles with a lot of climbing.
Haedo just likes to let his team lead him out so he can finish it off, and he
doesn't really care which type of finish he has to face.
With a two-man breakaway dangling off the front until the last 10K or so,
Haedo said Directors Frankie Andreu and Harm Jensen came onto the radios and
told the team to chase them down. A few other teams joined in and
made the catch. Haedo gave his team all the credit as they stuck with the
plan they had developed in the team meeting and brought him to the line even
though he wasn't feeling "that great" toward the end. As a former track
rider for five years until 2001, Haedo has that sprinters kick that is so
prevalent among track riders coming out of Argentina and once his team was able
to deliver him, his instincts took over and he flew to the line.
JJ said it was "really hard to enjoy the views today" but there were plenty
of spectators watching the race from the bluffs of Big Sur overlooking the
Pacific Ocean. Clear, cloudless skies were again the order of the day and
mild temperatures in the low 60s were constant for the riders. No early
morning fog greeted the riders as they rode out of Cannery Row, and the usual
crosswinds that can be prevalent this time of year never amounted to much.
Haedo did say he thought a return trip on a motorcycle to the area might be in
store to see what beauty he'd missed.
Asked if he was the fastest man in the Tour of California, JJ shyly
smiled and claimed "I cannot say that....you can say that if you want!"
When someone commented that they wondered if they should bet on someone else to
win another stage, JJ smiled and said, "I don't know. Maybe if you want to
lose money!" But he laughed and was both modest and humble at his double-whammy
win in the Tour of California.
Haedo said he is receiving a lot of compliments on his wins from other riders
in the peloton, and the European riders are acknowledging his talents.
Before the race today, Bobby Julich told him to "take it easy; don't win by too
much today!" It was close, but Haedo still made the top of the podium and
is making his new team of Toyota-United Pro Cycling proud, too.
Floyd Landis held on to his overall lead today and retained the golden
jersey. He will start Friday's race from San Luis Obispo into Santa
Barbara in the leader's jersey once again, with the biggest challenge of the day
coming in the final climb up San Marcos Pass, with a fast and winding descent
into the city of Santa Barbara for a finish along the Pacific Ocean.
Today Top Five Stage Results
1. 126 ARG 19810126 HAEDO Juan José TUT 4.41'02"
2. 27 USA 19730903 RODRIGUEZ Fred DVL 4.41'02"
3. 76 GER 19730604 KORFF André TMO 4.41'02"
4. 81 CAN 19681119 FRASER Gordon HNM 4.41'02"
5. 153 USA 19750226 CANDELARIO Alex JBC 4.41'02"