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Tour of California Stage 5 Team & Rider Comments
By Vaughn Trevi
Date: 2/24/2006
Tour of California Stage 5 Team & Rider Comments

Tour of California Stage 5 Team & Rider Reports
Comment from Riders and Teams, CSC, Health Net/Maxxis, Nevada, Toyota/United Pro Cycling  & Photo Gallery 
All photos c. Scott Schaffrick, Mark Adkison Phd. &

Voigt, Bak Attack in Tour of California Stage 5

With Floyd Landis of Phonak clutching the Tour of California leader's jersey tightly, other cyclists started grabbing what they could in today's Stage 5. George Hincapie won the stage and the sprint jersey. Levi Leipheimer of Gerolsteiner fought for the king of the mountains jersey. And Team CSC did what it loves to do: attack.

Following Wednesday's pivotal Stage 3 time trial where Landis grabbed a comfortable 29-second lead, Team CSC sport director Scott Sunderland said that CSC's main goals would be a stage victory. So it was no surprise that shortly after the 105-mile stage from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara began Lars Bak, fresh off earning his most aggressive rider jersey yesterday, latched on to a breakaway. When his group was reeled back in by Discovery, who wanted a stage win for Hincapie, Jens Voigt almost immediately launched a four-man break that characterized the stage.

"Before they caught Lars back, I radioed Jens and told him to make a counterattack," Sunderland said. Because he was joined by Discovery's tough veteran, Viatcheslav Ekimov, Discovery was content to let Voigt go.

Voigt is an accomplished breakaway artist who has won stages in the Tour de France and rode a breakaway into the yellow jersey in the 2005 Tour de France. Today's breakaway, which also included Sebastian Lang of Gerolsteiner and Nick Reistad of Jelly Belly, stayed away nearly four hours, getting caught only on the final climb of the day, the Category 1 San Marcos Pass between the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara.'

Since none of the riders were much of a threat to Landis — Ekimov was the closest at more than five minutes down — the peloton might have let them stay away. But Lang and Reistad fell off the back, leaving two men to fend off the pack. At the same time, Leipheimer tried to escape the peloton on the climb up San Marcos, partly to make a play for the stage win and partly to compete for the king of the mountains sprint on the climb. Since Leipheimer is only a minute off of Landis' time, Phonak and the rest of the peloton chased the break down and caught Leipheimer minutes after he crested the mountain.

From there, Hincapie's Discovery team set most of the pace down to the beaches of Santa Barbara. The climb had split the peloton and only 40 riders were able to contest the win. Since many true sprinters were either dropped or worn out on the climb, Hincapie, a solid climber and an excellent sprinter, was well-positioned to take the bunch sprint at the end. With his second stage win in the race, he reclaimed the sprinter's jersey back from Juan Jose Haedo of Toyota United Pro.

Sunderland said that the terrain has not presented CSC a good opportunity to snatch the golden jersey. "The climb today just wasn't hard enough to split up the field," he said. "But it's February—nobody's expecting the Alps or the Pyrenees."

BOBBY'S BLOG: Tour of California, Stage 5
On today’s stage:
“I don’t think it was such a critical stage than we had initially anticipated. Stages 2 and 3 were the stages that really made the race. Today was just trying to go for a stage win and we had Jens Voigt in the breakaway all day. We were really hoping that Stuart O’Grady would be able to get over the last climb. But it was just a little bit too much and it came down to a field sprint.”

On today’s strategy:
“Our strategy was to follow to see what happens. Then we saw there was a head wind on that last climb and it wasn’t so difficult that there wasn’t really any need to make a massive move because we knew that Stuart was just a bit behind the time to get over the top of the climb. But he wasn’t able to make it and we were just missing our sprinter for the finish.”

On the team’s performance so far:
“I’d say we’ve done very good, but we unfortunately haven’t won a stage yet, which I’m a little disappointed about. But we’re right there scratching at it. Everyday we have riders in the breakaways. We’re all together all the time in the race, and we’ve obviously got some new guys on the team so we’re working out the kinks. I’m sure we’ll be ready to rip in Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico next week.”


With the last major climb of the Amgen Tour of California looming at the end of today's 105-mile stage from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara, Ben Jacques-Maynes of the Nevada Pro Cycling Team had a final chance to show his ability to climb with the leaders, and the San Jose rider rose to the occasion.

As the field closed in on a four-rider break of Jens Voigt (CSC), Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner), Viatcheslav Ekimov (Discovery) and Nick Reistad (Jelly Belly) near the base of the Category 1 climb of San Marcos Pass, teammates Jackson Stewart and Scott Zwizanski helped position Jacques-Maynes near the front of the field

On the climb itself, Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) and Ricardo Ricco (Saunier Duval-Prodir) attacked and opened a gap of around 20 seconds, while Jacques-Maynes held strong in the group of race leader Floyd Landis (Phonak), along with fewer than thirty other riders.

At the finish, the Nevada team leader moved up to 25th overall and was 10th across the line as George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) won his second stage of the race.

As the field rolled out of San Luis Obispo in the morning, Nevada riders featured in a slew of attacks as small groups tried to break away from the Phonak-controlled pack.

In particular, Dominique Perras was part of a 13-rider group that looked promising for a time, but TIAA-CREF prevented the gap from increasing to more than a minute and the break eventually lost steam. Perras did take third in the Clif Bar sprint point at Guadalupe though.

Today's stage also served as a homecoming for Nevada Operations Manager Kurt Stockton, as family and friends turned out at the finish to welcome the Santa Barbara native and former USPRO Champion back to his hometown, where his cycling career began.

O’Neill holds steady when fireworks fly on San Marcos
Everybody expected the final climb of today’s Stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California to be decisive. It also came as little surprise that it was the Gerolsteiner team of Levi Leipheimer, sitting 6th overall just two seconds behind Nathan O’Neill of the Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis, that lit the fuse on the fireworks.
Mike Sayers leads photo c.M. Adkison
With the remnants of a four-man break still up the road by about a minute, Gerolsteiner lined up three riders on the front and drilled it from the bottom of the Category 1 climb over San Marcos Pass, which gains nearly 1,500 feet in four miles. The pack, which had mostly stayed together until that point, immediately began to fragment.

 One by one, Leipheimer’s teammates peeled off the front, while riders in bunches fell of the blistering pace.
“Levi had his teammates do a one-two-three thing and it put a lot of people on the ropes,” said O’Neill.

Finally, Leipheimer launched off the front alone, with Ricardo Ricco (Prodir-Saunier Duval) the only rider able to bridge to Leipheimer, determined to make more noise in his home state tour.

“When he finally went off the front,” O’Neill continued, “it was actually a bit of a relief because the main bunch eased off a bit. There was about a minute-and a-half or two that I was feeling a bit rough.”

The Leipheimer and Ricco bridged to the three remaining riders from the break, which included another of his Gerolsteiner teammates, Sebastian Lang. He sold out for his team leader, and Leipheimer and Ricco continued up the road, opening a gap of :20 on the main field. But slowly, the gap started to close, with a group of 40 strong men grinding their way back up to Leipheimer.

“Once our bunch started working its way back up to them, I started to feel a bit more comfortable,” O’Neill said. “I pretty much sat on a wheel up to the top. I was actually a bit surprised I was that comfortable.”

From climbing to sprinting
Once the 40-man group absorbed the two leaders, it became apparent that it would come down to a sprint finish out of the front group. Health Net Presented by Maxxis strongman Hayden Roulston, who was initially gapped when the heat turned up on San Marcos, had slowly made his way back up to the front group, and immediately become the team’s top threat in the sprint.
“I got gapped off early, and just worked my way back up to the pack,” Roulston said. “I was back on by about 2 km from the top.”

“Hayden did a great job of getting himself back up to the front group,” team directeur sportif Jeff Corbett added. Roulston used the descent to recover. “His primary job was to look after Nathan coming into Santa Barbara,” Corbett continued. “Once it looked like everything was staying together, I told him to start sniffing around for the sprint.”

Coming up the finishing straight on Cabrillo Street in Santa Barbara, Roulston was well positioned behind the train of Discovery, trying to set up George Hincapie for the stage win. With the pack moving up the left side, Roulston lit out up the right side from 300 meters out. “Then the group moved to the right and I had to check up a bit,” Roulston said. Instead, he had to settle for 7th across the line behind stage winner Hincapie.

For O’Neill, he said after the stage, “my primary objective was to not lose time to Levi. But Levi has the mountains jersey now, which hopefully will make him a bit happier.”

Stage 5 Results
7 Hayden Roulston (NZl) Health Net p/b Maxxis
27 Nathan O'Neill (Aus) Health Net p/b Maxxis
General classification
5 Nathan O'Neill (Aus) Health Net p/b Maxxis 1.08
22 Hayden Roulston (NZL) Health Net p/b Maxxis 4.31

Toyota/United Pro Cycling Team's
Chris Baldwin 15th Moves Up in Standings

Heading into the home stretch and what the Tour expects to be some of the largest crowds to date, U.S. Time Trial Champion Chris Baldwin finished in 15th place with the first pack of riders today on the beachfront in Santa Barbara.

With the Tour rapidly becoming more aggressive and the day’s strategy in place, the Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team focused on execution with the goal of placing Baldwin in position to be among the first group of world-class riders to cross the finish line.

Over the 105-mile race at speeds reaching nearly 55 mph on the descent from San Marcos Pass, the mission was accomplished.

The stellar finish resulted in Baldwin moving up in the overall Tour standings to 24th among the field of 107 riders. George Hincapie of Discovery won the stage completing the ride in 3 hours and 52 minutes to tie Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team’s Juan Jose Haedo for two stage wins in the inaugural Amgen Tour of California.
“Our objective was to get Baldwin in place for the Category 1 ascent over the San Marcos Pass with the first group,” said Team Director Frankie Andreu. “Overall we were happy with the stage.”

Coming off a tremendous training camp, TUT’s Heath Blackgrove sits in 29th place, and Tony Cruz jumps to 38th.
“We tried to conserve energy today and prepare for tomorrow,” said Team Director Harm Jansen. “The race was pretty hard, the last climb was tough, but we executed our strategy well with a strong finish from Chris.” Jansen added that tomorrow’s Stage 6 is a short race – only 89 miles. The start is hilly and the ride through the Canyon could be a breaker.
“It could be a group finish or a break that takes off early. Either way it’s going to be a very dynamic race. I think we may be in for surprises,” said Jansen.

The Tour of California marks Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team’s first public appearance since the team’s official launch on Feb. 7. The team’s presence at the Tour of California includes a large expo tent that captures cycling fans’ interest featuring a look at the new 2006 Toyota RAV4, the team’s limited edition team issue bicycle by United Bicycles, a team video, a life-size standup of the team (a crowd favorite), a retail store including apparel and team merchandise, and membership kiosks allowing fans to become a part of the Toyota-United team.

Stage 5 Results:
15. BALDWIN Christopher TUT 3.52'02"
50. CRUZ Antonio TUT 3.53'15"
51. ENGLAND Justin TUT 3.53'15"
52. BLACKGROVE Heath TUT 3.53'15"
72. FRIEDICK Mariano TUT 3.58'26"
79. GARCIA José-Manuel TUT 4.02'50"
83. HAEDO Juan José TUT 4.02'50"

Overall standings through Stage 5:
1. LANDIS Floyd PHO 16.29'40"
24. BALDWIN Christopher TUT 16.35'53"
29. BLACKGROVE Heath TUT 16.36'43"
38. CRUZ Antonio TUT 16.38'53"
70. ENGLAND Justin TUT 16.50'04"
82. FRIEDICK Mariano TUT 16.54'21"
96. GARCIA José-Manuel TUT 16.58'02"
102. HAEDO Juan José TUT 17.00'44"

Overall Attendance Estimates Primed to Top One Million, with
More Than 830,000 Estimated Fans on the Course to Date

Crowds line the finish in Santa Barbara photo c. Mark Adkison Phd &

Following another day of crowds in the thousands and with the Amgen Tour of California on pace to set records in attendance for any single sporting event in California, as well as for any cycling event in the United States with more than 830,000 attendees to date, George Hincapie (USA) of the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team powered down the street to Santa Barbara and his second stage victory.

Thousands of spectators lined the course as the riders blazed out of San Luis Obispo at an average speed of almost 30 mph to begin the 105.3-mile course to Santa Barbara, and a bevy of attacks kept speeds high throughout the day. Two large breaks of ten riders were able to stay off the front of the field with maximum gaps of 45" respectively.

Shortly after the second large group was reabsorbed on the open and flat roads into Orcutt, four riders were able to slide off the front of the field to gain a significant advantage as the course turned toward hilly terrain in Santa Barbara County. The four-man group included German Jens Voigt (GER) of Team CSC, Sebastian Lang (GER) of Gerolsteiner, ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games time trial medalist Viatcheslav Ekimov (RUS) from Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, and American Nick Reistad (USA) from California-based Team Jelly Belly.

With Ekimov 5'20" down to Landis in the overall, Phonak allowed the four a maximum advantage of 3'20" and held the gap steady at approximately 3' to the Category 1 climb of San Marcos Pass Road. At 3.1 miles to the summit, the lead had shrunk to 1'33".

Halfway up the climb, Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Gerolsteiner and Ricardo Ricco (ITA) of Prodir-Saunier Duval joined the front group and established a 22" lead on the field at the summit of the KOM, with Leipheimer leading over the top of the climb. 40 riders regrouped on the descent. With a similar finishing dynamic to Stage Two, George Hincapie showed that he is one of the fastest men out of a select group by winning the sprint and taking his second stage in the Amgen Tour of California.
“We knew all the roads, and we knew the last climb really well. The team was really strong today. We've had a great week and have a lot of fun racing here,” said Hincapie.

“Amgen continues to seek out meaningful ways to communicate the progress we have made discovering and developing innovative and vital medicines that have helped millions of patients fight cancer, kidney disease and other serious illnesses,” said Jim Daly, senior vice president, North American commercial operations, Amgen. “Through the Amgen Tour of California sponsorship, we will raise awareness of the proper use of our medicines and the medical breakthroughs possible through biotechnology while partnering with The Wellness Community to further support cancer patients and caregivers.”

Charity Ride Preview
Breakaway from Cancer

Five hundred local residents and Amgen staff and their families will take part in the Breakaway from Cancer™ charity ride on Saturday, Feb. 25 – the same day that Stage Six of the inaugural Amgen Tour of California rolls into Thousand Oaks from Santa Barbara.
“Breakaway from Cancer is an integral, complementary component of the Amgen Tour of California, and it benefits cancer patients across the country,” said Kathryn West, advocacy director, Amgen. “Amgen is proud to host the Breakaway from Cancer charity ride in our headquarters city and we look forward to joining members of the community to raise additional funds to help empower people with cancer so they can live well with the disease.”

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.

After his performance in today’s stage, Hincapie reclaimed the lead in the Clif Bar Sprint Competition and will wear the Clif Bar Sprint Jersey during Stage Six. The points awarded to Leipheimer for being the first rider over the San Marcos Pass puts him in the California Travel and Tourism King of the Mountain Jersey, while Tom Peterson (USA) of Team

TIAA-CREF remains in the Union Bank Best Young Rider Jersey. For his efforts in the day’s longest breakaway, 23-year-old Reistad earned the Adobe Most Aggressive Jersey.

“It’s clear that the race is taking on a momentum of its own; the crowd support on the road today was beyond anything we’ve seen yet,” said Shawn Hunter, president of AEG Sports, the presenters of the Amgen Tour of California. “From the start in San Luis Obispo and on through all of the towns along the course, people were out in the thousands to support the best cyclists in the world race to Santa Barbara.”

Stage Six tomorrow will bring the riders 89.5 miles from Santa Barbara to Thousand Oaks on their final day of distance racing, followed by a circuit day finale in Redondo Beach on Sunday. Tomorrow’s shorter stage with a hilly profile features four KOM climbs and finishes with three laps of a three-mile circuit in Thousand Oaks that will cover the stages’ final ten miles and finish at Amgen’s corporate campus.

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

Saturday, Feb. 25 –
Amgen Breakaway from Cancer Charity Ride, Thousand Oaks
Estimated Start: 8:30 a.m.
500 riders registered
Stage 6, Santa Barbara to Thousand Oaks
Estimated Start Time: 10 a.m.
Estimated Finish Time: 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 26 – Stage 7, Redondo Beach Circuit Race
Estimated Start Time: 1 p.m.
Estimated Finish Time: 4 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 Angeles 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,
For more information, visit AEG today at


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