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Tour of California on Pace to Break Attendance Records
 
By Vaughn Trevi
Date: 2/24/2006
Tour of California on Pace to Break Attendance Records
 

The Amgen Tour of California on Pace to Break Attendance Records
Pro Cycling Teams & Riders Comments, Toyota/United Pro, CSC, Health Net, KodakGallery.com/Sierra Nevada. California record attendance higher than Baseball's World Series, new record for sporting attendance expected. Welcome to Cycling Crazy California.


 J.J. Haedo Victory photo c. Toyota/United Pro Cycling Team
J.J. Haedo Does it Again
Toyota/United Pro Cycling Haedo Sprints to Second Stage Victory in Stage 4

Juan Jose Haedo swept across the finish line in a tight sprint for his second Tour win today in Stage 4, “the Queen Stage” of the Amgen Tour of California. The four-time Argentinean national champion, who won Stage 1 in Santa Rosa, did it again in San Luis Obispo, outpacing Fred Rodriguez (Davitamon-Lotto) and Andre Korff (T-Mobile) at the finish line of the longest stage of the Tour, a 130-mile run down the coast and inland from Monterey. Haedo gave all the credit to his team on the toughest day of racing for Toyota-United.

“I gave 110% to stay up front,” said Haedo. “My team was working hard for me and did what they had to do, I had to give it my all.”

Team Director Frankie Andreu noted that the team had a strategy from the get go.
“It was a strategic win,” said Andreu. “We had Justin England protecting J.J. to keep him as fresh as possible. The whole team chased for the last 20 kilometers of the race and in the end we had the objective of making this a field sprint. Tony Cruz and Mariano Friedick did an exceptional job setting up J.J. for the sprint. It was the hardest day of the tour for the riders, but J.J is incredibly fast.”

At 5K to go on a downhill race to the finish line, the peleton was clocked at 46 mph.
“It was a mad dash – we really set the tone today,” said Team Director Harm Jansen. “We raced, we chased… and we won. We were active in the beginning and then we took the initiative to start chasing at 25 kilometers to go when two riders were in front with a 2 minute and 25 second lead. It was a team effort, and an impressive win.”

Accompanied on the presentation stage by UCI President Pat McQuaid, Haedo was presented a nine-liter bottle of Pinot Noir from Edna Valley Vineyards, etched by San Luis Obispo artist Candice Norcross. The presentation, made by San Luis Obispo Mayor David Romero, also included the Clif Bar Sprint Jersey presented to Haedo. Haedo leads the Tour in sprint points with 30 followed by George Hincapie of Discovery with 25.
“It’s going to be an interesting race,” said Jansen. “It’s difficult to predict who is going to cross the climb first – a lot of people are tired.”

Stage 4 Results:
1. HAEDO Juan Jose TUT 4.41'02"
2. RODRIGUEZ Fred DVL
3. KORFF Andre TMO
24. BLACKGROVE Heath TUT 12.43'28"
26. BALDWIN Christopher TUT 12.43'51"
42 CRUZ Antonio TUT 12.45'38"
86. GARCIA Jose Manuel TUT 12.55'12"
91. FRIEDICK Mariano TUT 12.55'55"
96. ENGLAND Justin TUT 12.56'49"
100. HAEDO Juan Jose TUT 12.57'54"
photos c. Toyota/United Pro Cycling Team


Long Day in the Saddle

Team CSC spent a long day in the front of the peloton but came away with little to show for it in Stage 4 of the Tour of California, as sprinter Juan Jose Haedo took the stage win in San Luis Obispo.

The peloton made several attacks to test race leader Floyd Landis' grip on the golden jersey, but his team, Phonak, didn't appear too shaken. Team CSC riders took part in several attacks, but sport director Scott Sunderland said that was more to cover other rider's moves than for any hope of rattling Lanids. "We didn't expect Phonak to be exhausted today. They were more than capable of defending the jersey," he said.

CSC's Jens Voigt and Stuart O'Grady both made early breaks that were quickly reeled in. Lars Bak took off several times and led five breakaways that stayed away for roughly 40 kilometers. For his efforts Bak was named Most Aggressive Rider for the day, a title that carries with it a blue jersey. "My strategy was to try to win the stage, but it was not possible," Bak said.


Young CSC fan at the CSC bus photo c. Andrew Rogers

As the cyclists neared the turn inland at Morro Bay, Team CSC took over at the front of the peloton, not to set the pace but to keep Zabriskie and Julich out of trouble as the pace quickened. They lead the peloton all the way into San Luis Obispo where O'Grady sat back while the serious sprint teams contested the win. Toyota United Pro's Haedo took his second win of the Tour of California, which should leave him solidly in control of the green sprint jersey.

With no major climbs, the peloton got more of a chance to witness some of California's most spectacular scenery around them. The 130-mile Stage 4, dubbed the "queen stage" by race organizers, rolled south through the Big Sur region from Monterey to San Luis Obispo. The riders had sheer mountains to their left and a wild Pacific Ocean to their right.

Friday's Stage 5 will be another long one at 105 miles. It will start in San Luis Obispo, travel through the Santa Ynez Valley, most recently the home of Team CSC's training camp in Solvang, and hit a four-mile Category One climb over California's coastal range. While the climb may inflict some pain in the peloton, a long descent to the beaches of Santa Barbara will make it unlikely that anyone will gain time on Landis, an expert downhill man.


Bobby Julich on today’s effort:

“My strategy didn’t change at all today. We were just waiting to see what the other teams would do. The most challenging part was just finishing the race. It was actually a pretty easy stage just rolling up and down the coast. The scenery was beautiful and I really tried to enjoy it. It was gorgeous.”
On tomorrow’s stage:
“Tomorrow is supposed to be the second hardest stage in the race with that big climb in the end. I’m sure that’s where the race will be decided.”
Video interviews with CSC rider.

Fraser 4th on stage,
O’Neill holds 5th overall in California.

San Luis Obispo, CA – At 130 miles with three KoMs, most people might have thought the fourth and longest stage of the Amgen Tour of California wouldn’t have ended in a bunch sprint. But it did. Gord Fraser of the Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis was well positioned for the finish, with the line coming just 200 meters after a difficult hard left turn.

“There was a T-Mobile guy just to my inside and I really didn’t think anyone would go any further inside him,” Fraser said. “But then J.J. (Haedo, Toyota United) did, and Fred (Rodriguez, Davitamon-Lotto) went inside him, too. I had to check up and just scrubbed too much speed to really contest the sprint from that close in to the finish. It all happened really fast.”
Instead, Fraser finished fourth, but despite not winning the stage, he was content with his ride. “I think I actually gained a bit of confidence today,” he said. “My legs felt good today after 130 miles. I do feel pretty good about it.” Scenic, but no time to enjoy it

Though the stage was 130 miles – covering some of the most spectacular scenery in the world along California’s rocky coastline from Monterey to San Luis Obispo, it finished in an almost absurdly fast 4:41, a pace approaching 28 mph. They covered the first 50 miles in about 1.5 hours.

“Gerolsteiner lit it up almost from the gun,” said Nathan O’Neill, who is sitting 5th overall, but just two seconds ahead of Gerolsteiner’s Levi Leipheimer.

“Even the 10-mile neutral start was fast,” Mike Sayers said. “Everyone was complaining. But it was an epic stage, a great stage. Our team rode really well today.”
“The stage could’ve been really bad if the weather hadn’t cooperated,” O’Neill added. “But it went okay. I didn’t have to do too much work today other than keeping pace in the bunch.”

Hayden Roulston agreed with O’Neill – and everyone else on the team – that it was a difficult day of racing. He bridged up to one of the earlier breaks that ended up staying away for nearly 70 km. “(Chris) Horner (Davitamon-Lotto) bridged up to our group so we really weren’t going anywhere,” he said. “If he hadn’t been up there the bunch might have let us stay away.” Roulston, who sits in 22nd overall at 4:31, would’ve been the highest placed rider in the break had Horner not joined the group.

Once Roulston’s group was caught, a number of attacks went off, with one gaining about 1:15. It wasn’t until the remnants of that last break were about to be caught that another serious break went away, this time with Vladimir Gusev (Discovery) and Glen Alan Chadwick (Navigators) performing a two-man time trial away from the group.
The duo opened up a lead of 2:25 at one point. But with 30 km to go, Health Net Presented by Maxxis went to the front along with Toyota and T-Mobile to gradually bring the two riders back.

Sayers, Mike Jones and Tim Johnson did much of the work. “My first instinct was to go hard to bring them back,” Jones said, “but Tim slowed me down a bit so that we timed the catch for inside 10 km to go. That way, the sprinters’ teams could take over the front, the pace would pick up and there would be less of a chance for a break to try and sneak away, which would save us from doing more chasing.”

Once the bunch got off of Highway 1 inside of 3 km to go, Roulston and Greg Henderson found Gord to try and set up a lead-out train for the Canadian. But Fraser noted that nobody could really get anything set up. “It was chaos.” Instead, the sprinters were mostly left to freelance the finish.

Stage 4 Results
1 Juan José Haedo (Arg) Toyota-United Pro 4.41.02
2 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto
3 André Korff (Ger) T-Mobile Team
4 Gordon Fraser (Can) Health Net p/b Maxxis
10 Gregory Henderson (NZl) Health Net p/b Maxxis

General Classification
1 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems 7.56.36
2 David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC 0.29
3 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC 0.34
4 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel 0.45
5 Nathan O'Neill (Aus) Health Net p/b Maxxis 1.08
22 Hayden Roulston (NZL) Health Net p/b Maxxis 4.31

STEWART 8TH, JACQUES-MAYNES 13TH IN LONGEST STAGE
Today's 130-mile stage was the longest of the Amgen Tour of California, and Kodakgallery.com/Sierra Nevada earned its highest stage finish thus far, as Jackson Stewart placed 8th in a bunch sprint won by Juan Jose Haedo (Toyota-United).

Although the course followed Highway 1 south from Monterey's Cannery Row to San Luis Obispo for all but the last two miles, the riders had little chance to admire the breathtaking coastline as the ProTour teams began launching attacks from the gun.

As the field approached the two KOM lines at the 68 and 72 mile marks, a group of 11 riders went clear and looked as though it would stick, until Chris Horner (Davitamon-Lotto) bridged a 45" gap to join the leaders. At that point, Phonak was forced to chase, since Horner was only 2'17" behind overall leader Floyd Landis.

As the road dropped down to the water's edge and flattened out, the sprinters' teams pushed the pace, eventually sweeping up breakaway holdouts Glen Chadwick (Navigators Insurance) and Vladimir Gusev (Discovery Channel).

Setting up for the finish, Kodakgallery.com/Sierra Nevada had four riders in the lead group - Stewart, Ben Jacques-Maynes, Dominique Perras, and Scott Zwizanski.

Despite being the fastest finisher of the four, Stewart was unsure of how his legs would hold up after 130 miles of racing, and hesitated to put his teammates at his disposal.

"I was really aggressive early on and I paid for it," he related. "I was in a few early breaks and it took a lot out of me, and there were times that I though I might not make it to the finish. So when we got towards the end, I didn't want to make the guys work for me but I wanted to see what I could do."

After coming out of the last corner, Stewart passed four riders in the final 200m and was eighth across the line, earning his best ever finish in an international race of this caliber.
"I've been 12th a couple times at the Tour de Georgia, but to get in the top 10 here, especially in a stage this long, is something I'm really proud of," he added.

Ben Jacques-Maynes finished safe and sound in 13th place, despite reports that he had abandoned the race after a fall in the first few miles. The San Jose rider also moved up one spot to 27th overall.
 www.KGSNCycling.com

The Amgen Tour of California on Pace to Break Attendance Records
680,000 Spectators

With three days of racing remaining in the inaugural Amgen Tour of California cycling road race, organizers have reported crowd estimates have surpassed 680,000 spectators for the first five days of the 600-mile, eight-stage race which began Sunday, Feb. 19 in San Francisco and will conclude this Sunday, Feb. 26 in Redondo Beach, Calif.

"It looks to be a good race. Not just good teams here, but the teams have brought good riders as well, and they’re all motivated to do very well. From the UCI’s point of view, it’s good to see this in its first year," said Pat McQuaid, president of the UCI. "I have no doubt that the potential is here to grow and develop this race into a big, big spectacle in both the state of California and the United States."

"From both a competition and overall stature level, the Amgen Tour of California has already established itself as not only America’s most important cycling competition but one of the world’s top events on the cycling calendar," said Mike Plant, Executive Committee Member, United Cycliste Internationale and founder of Tour DuPont. "Whether you are a fan who follows and appreciates elite-level sports competitions or are witnessing the amazing and exciting sport of road racing for the first time, I can guarantee the excitement and caliber of competition will be unlike anything you have ever witnessed," continued Plant, a Board Member of the United States Olympic Committee.


Record Crowds photo c. Mark Adkison Phd & www.dailypeloton.com

Organizers predict that the attendance figures indicate that the race is on track to set records for highest attendance ever for a cycling event held in the United States, as well as for any single sporting event held in the state of California, surpassing such competitions as the 1994 Men’s World Cup Competition, 1999 Women’s World Cup, 2005 Honda U.S. Open of Surfing, The X Games (multiple years), the 1988 World Series (Dodgers vs. A’s), the 1989 World Series (Giants vs. A’s) and the 2002 World Series (Angels vs. Giants).

"With a field of cycling teams that is clearly considered world-caliber, fans have shown their excitement and appreciation for the race by attending in record numbers," said Shawn Hunter, President, AEG Sports, presenters of the Amgen Tour of California. "With each day of racing becoming more exciting and dramatic, it is clear that the coverage, word-of-mouth and results have established this race as one of the greatest sporting events held in recent years."

"With thousands of fans lining the race course, and thousands more attending the ceremonies in each of the host cities, the inaugural Amgen Tour of California is truly a world-class event," said Phyllis Piano, Amgen's vice president of Corporate Communications and Philanthropy. " Just as Amgen is known for innovation and breakthrough advances in medicine, the Amgen Tour of California is proving to be a breakthrough cycling event, building enthusiasm for the great sport of cycling."

Stage Five today will bring the riders 105.3 miles from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara. The stage will follow the central coast until the sprint city of Guadalupe, where the field will leave the flatlands and head east to the Santa Ynez Mountains via the Solvang area. The riders will then face the four-mile Category One climb to San Marcos Pass before descending to a beachfront finish in Santa Barbara.

For full results, official times, archived footage, photos and play-by-play of the Amgen Tour of California, please visit the official race Web site at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com. For images from today’s stage and the week, please go to www.gettyimages.com.
A one-hour race recap will be broadcast on ESPN2 tonight at 10 p.m. PST.

Still to come this week:
Saturday, Feb. 25 – Stage 6, Santa Barbara to Thousand Oaks
Sunday, Feb. 26 – Stage 7, Redondo Beach Circuit Race

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 www.amgen.com.

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),
New Jersey. For more information, visit AEG today at www.aegworldwide.com

 

 
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