Stage 6 - February 25: Santa Barbara to Thousand Oaks, 144kmt
A hot contest as the Tour turns inland and the temperatures
Todays fast charge by the peloton to Thousand Oaks was animated by an ill
fated early break of seven riders who were chased down by the Discovery Channel
team of George Hincapie after dangling out in front of the peloton for an
hour... and gaining a respectable minute and seconds gap. The first climb led to
the break being cannabalized by Georges boys as the peloton strung out in the
chase to bring the escapees back before the feed zone. A few attacks at the KOM
were raised in the contest for the points available but no gap of significance
was established or maintained.
The next rider to attempt an attack was Sebastien Lang of
Sebastien Lang of Gerolsteiner who drove for a gap to pick up the intermediate
sprint number two, which he won with a small gap with the Swiss duo Zampeiri and
Emiger following to pick up the remaining points.
Lang with a half minute gap, with a peloton more concerned with letting their
lunch settle before giving serious chase; Lang must have though one small gap
deserves a bit more and quickly distanced the peloton in the distance to the
tune of almost 3 minutes in the next 20 minutes as he drove to the next mountain
Meanwhile a few minutes later the Recardo Ricco, Bernard Kohl and Levi
Leipheimer battled for the remaining KOM points finishing in that order as Lang
made good his escape with his time gap to the laconic peloton lolling at 2
minutes behind. Dominique Perras attempting to bridge to Lang dangled half way
in the gap between Lang and the peloton.
As the race heated up the temperatures started to rise in the coastal range
to the low 80s as the race moves toward the finish in Thousand Oaks a well known
hot spot in Southern California where you can fry your breakfast egg in the
summer morning sun in the summer, and the winter in some years.
The peloton stretched out in the chase led by the Toyota/United Pro team at
this point figuring that their man J.J. Haedo might pull off a hat trick of wins
and best George Hincapie who is tied with the former Argentine national road
champion at two stages each. By the 74 mile marker Lang was back in the warm
arms of the peloton after he faced a wheel change and lost his rhythm and a bit
of time; a brave and long break for the Gerolsteiner lad.
A few more ill fated breaks were attempted, but none would be allowed to get
more than a few seconds as the teams who at this point, were more intent
on delivering their sprinters to the finish as the race entered the finishing
circuit in Thousand Oaks.
CSC drove the pace in the finishing kms and then all hell broke loose in
front of the screaming California tifosi as Gerolsteiners Haselbacher went for
the long finish at 700 metres but in the end his legs were no match for the legs
of Olaf Pollack of T-mobile who drove towards the line taking the win in the
final 50 feet of action. Riccardo Ricco and Fast Freddy Rodruiguez followed.
Full results and Photos to follow...