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Tour of California Press Conference
 
By Vaughn Trevi
Date: 2/24/2006
Tour of California Press Conference
 


Floyd Landis race leader, Chris Horner, George Hincapie, Nick Reistad, and Levi Leipheimer answer questions about Stage 5. Photo Gallery of riders and race action.

Chris Horner (USA) Davitamon?Lotto
Third Place Finisher, Stage 5
Tell us a little bit about the break today, bringing it back and then the final sprint.
“The first strategy was simple, just get over the climb in the first group. After that it was Discovery doing all the work all the way to the finish. Simple strategy was to stay on George’s (Hincapie) wheel. His wheel was in perfect position and then the Gerolsteiner guy came by at about 300 or 400 meters. Just enough time to where either I was going to have to let him in and try to sprint two wheels from behind to try to catch George, which is next to impossible, or sit there and fight with him and then lose for sure. So I let him in. I think I had good speed for the finish, just coming from too far back.”

When the break got as much as three minutes, Phonak came up and dropped hammer.
What was going on?

“There was a lot of weird stuff going on. There was a big break that went off and then TIAA-CREF Team goes to the front and starts pulling at max. They did a really good job in pulling it back; I don’t know what it accomplished in the long run to do that kind of work, but they didn’t have a guy in the move and they wanted a guy in the move, so they pulled it back, which gave Phonak a lot of rest. I think the end result didn’t change anything all day. It looked like it was going to be a sprint. With a climb like that, it was not going to be a sprint with a sprinter but with fast guys, and that’s what it came down to. The climb just wasn’t steep enough to get rid of guys, and there was a pretty good headwind that last two or three (kilometers) from the top, so sitting on gave you a pretty good benefit too.”

How about the crowds today on the climb and coming into Santa Barbara, what was that like?
“It was fantastic all day – there at the start and then coming into Santa Barbara they were good. Fans were on all the climbs and at the sprints. Again, the Amgen Tour of California has done a fantastic job putting (the race) on, and then evidently promoting it. The people in the area know it’s on and they’re all coming out supporting it, so it’s been fantastic.”


Chris Horner in the KOM Jersey photo c. Mark Akison & www.dailypeloton.com

You never give up. Are you still going to keep going and go for the overall win?
“Well, we have Freddy for the next stages. The other two stages (seem to be) built for him. We were setting up Freddy the first day and he had a flat at one (kilometer) to go – what are you going to do? Second stage we climbed the last corner a little bit wrong and we wanted him to come in the last corner first, which he did, but the distance to the last corner ended up being more like 250 so if you look, he lost that stage too. We’ll get him a stage. We’ll help him get to the line; we’ll get him the stage win.”

George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
Winner, Stage 5

George at the press conference. Photo c. Mark Adkison & Daily Peloton.com
What was the strategy of your team after the break was caught and heading into the final sprint?

“I felt really good on that last climb. We just wanted to get as many guys as we could over, and we knew we couldn’t do much damage because there was a headwind. We were fortunate we got six guys over, and the strategy at that point was not to let the real sprinters come back because the group was small. (We kept a) high pace so they wouldn’t come back, and once we knew they were gone we just kept a high tempo so nobody would attack. And the team just took me right to the line without much effort. It was a perfect day.”

When did you come out and go for the sprint?
“About 300 meters to go. It was kind of a long way and it was a never-ending 300 meters. It worked out perfect.

Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems
Amgen Race Leader


Your team had its work cut out for them with the breakaway. Tell us about pulling that back.
“We actually didn’t mind if it went to the finish. It was fine with us. Ekimov was the first guy, but as long as they didn’t get five minutes we were happy with that. I figured some things would go down on the last climb so as long as the guys were ok until there and we saved a few guys then everything was good. At the top we were suffering, but everybody was suffering.”

Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner
King of the Mountain Jersey Winner, Stage 5

Was one of your goals today to drop Bernhard (Kohl) and take the jersey?
“No I wasn’t even thinking of the jersey at all. I just wanted to attack and try to break the race open. I knew this climb wasn’t very hard, but I had to give it a go anyway. There were not many opportunities left in the race. I was trying to be aggressive and shake up the classification. When I got to the top (of the climb) there was only one other guy with me, and I say, hey, I want to take the points so that was the only time I really thought about it – right there at the top."

There was talk that maybe the break was your last chance to get the win.
“At one point it looked like it was a really good situation. I had teammates up there and that would have been perfect on the downhill, but the problem is I caught them too far from the top and they couldn’t stay with me, so it was only two of us on the downhill. It’s not a very steep downhill, it’s windy. You could never stay away from a group of thirty or forty.”

Nick Reistad (USA) Jelly Belly Pro Cycling Team
Most Aggressive Rider, Stage 5
Tell us about your aggression out there today.

“I just knew I wanted to get into the break today, at least we wanted to have someone in the break today. I saw Jens Voigt go, and that looked like a good time to attack because the field had kind of sat up a little bit. We got a big gap right away.


Nick Reistad in good company. photo c. Mark Adkison & www.dailypeloton.com

It looked like everyone was taking equal pulls and working well together.
“Yeah! We were all riding really hard out there, and we did the best we could. We just got caught on the climb and that was it! I’m a little bit bigger of a guy, so I wouldn’t call myself a climber by any means.”

 

 
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