Green Jersey Sprinter Peter Sagan Wins Los Angeles!

Photo Courtesy of Amgen Tour of California

Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) demonstrated that he’s a dangerous sprinter, edging out Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) for the Los Angeles Stage 8 win. Omega Pharma-QuickStep led their rider into the last turn. But Peter Sagan, propelled by Liquigas-Cannondale, powered through the last 150 feet and barely hit the finish line before Tom Boonen.

The day began with a neutral city start in Beverly Hills, with a hazy 73 degrees and a two mph wind. The terrain was a mix of flat stretches and small hills, totaling just under 43 miles.

Michael Creed (Optum Presented By Kelly Benefit Strategies) led the first attack 30 minutes through the course. He was followed out by Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Barracuda), Timothy Roe (BMC Pro Cycling), Christopher Jones (United HealthCare), and Matt Cooke (Team Exergy).

Robert Gesink (Rabobank), yesterday’s stage winner, remained insulated within the peleton. His goal was the overall win. Risks were not necessary today.

A new break formed creating a 45 second gap. It was composed of Ben Jacques Maynes (Bissell Pro Cycling), Rory Sutherland (United HealthCare), Nathan Haas (Garmin-Barracuda), Thomas Damuseau (Argos-Shimano), Scott Zwizanski (Optum Presented By Kelly Benefit Strategies), Morgan Schmitt (Team Exergy,) and Jasper Stuyven (Bontrager-Livestrong). Each team tried to keep someone out front while Rabobank set the pace at the front of the peloton.

The race leaders entered the finishing circuit, a five mile loop from Pico Blvd. to Temple Street. Riders had to complete 6 laps, each time studying the dangerous last turn for the final sprint. The average speed was 30 mph. The seven riders in the break were locked into a 30 second gap.

The second lap continued with Rabobank’s Luis Leon Sanchez and Robert Gesink working together. Haas and Sutherland traded the lead in the break. The fast 30 mph pace continued as the riders pushed over the line to begin lap three of six. The peleton showed discipline and remained in the shape of an arrowhead, narrowing the break to 17 seconds.

With three laps remaining, a rider from Orica GreenEDGE moved into the front of the peleton, Rabobank was happy to share the workload. Lap 5 saw the seven rider gap close to 15 seconds. Team Rabobank still controlled of the pace.

Rory Sutherland (United HealthCare), a superb time trialist, charged from the break with Nathan Haas (Garmin-Barracuda) off his back wheel. The racers still had five miles left to the finish. Stage 8 is considered a sprinters’ stage and expectations were high for a “sprint royale.” The announcers wondered if the rest of the peleton was aware of Nathan Haas’ prolific win record which includes the Japan Cup. This is his first chance riding for a big team.

The peleton started to pick up speed and brought the break back to ten seconds. Robert Gesink was sitting comfortably in third position with his “domestiques” taking first and second position. Liquigas-Cannondale formed to the right of center bringing up Peter Sagan. Garmin-Barracuda formed on the left with their man, Henrich Haussler. The 110 riders lifted the pace to 35 mph.

Rory Sutherland and Nathan Haas took turns attacking out of the break. Unfortunately, it seemed to slow the average speed of the break.

Tom Boonen’s Team, Omega Pharma-QuickStep moved to the front of the peleton, challenging Liquigas-Cannondale. They formed an impressive lead out train, flying past the last corner. But the pace of Boonen’s acceleration was not enough to beat out green jersey sprinter, Peter Sagan. He powered through the last 150 feet and swiped the finish from Boonen’s grasp.

Gesink finished with the peleton, taking the overall win of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California. Sebastian Salas (Optum Presented By Kelly Benefit Strategies) won the King of the Mountain Jersey. The sprinter’s Green Rider Jersey was awarded to Peter Sagan. Jeremy Vennel (Bissell Pro Cycling) received the Most Aggressive Rider Jersey. The crowd roared in response to retiring Robbie McEwen (Orica GreenEDGE) as he received the Most Courageous Rider Jersey. Wilco Kelderman (Rabobank) received the Young Riders Jersey.

The cyclists rode a total of nearly 750 miles through Northern, Central and Southern California. They embraced heat, unending mountainous climbs and long hours on the course. It was an exciting and unpredictable race. Many of us will continue on to the Tour de France in July; followed by the Olympics. The Amgen Tour of California has set the bar!

Results of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California

2012 Overall Standings
Pos. No. UCI Code Rider Team Time Gap

1. 41 NED19860531 GESINK, Robert RAB 30:42:32 00:00:00
2. 18 USA19790112 ZABRISKIE, David GRM 30:43:18 00:00:46
3. 11 USA19780313 DANIELSON, Tom GRM 30:43:26 00:00:54
4. 31 USA19880812 VAN GARDEREN, Tejay BMC 30:43:49 00:01:17
5. 92 COL19860611 DUARTE AREVALO, Fabio Andres COL 30:44:08 00:01:36
6. 21 USA19731024 LEIPHEIMER, Levi OPQ 30:44:45 00:02:13
7. 43 NED19910325 KELDERMAN, Wilco* RAB 30:45:02 00:02:30
8. 1 USA19711023 HORNER, Christopher RNT 30:45:21 00:02:49
9. 6 POR19851018 MACHADO, Tiago RNT 30:45:26 00:02:54
10. 67 NED19810405 WEENING, Pieter OGE 30:45:37 00:03:05


Team Standings
1. RadioShack-Nissan (LUX) 92:12:41 00:00:00
2. Rabobank Cycling Team (NED) 92:15:46 00:03:05
3. Orica GreenEDGE (AUS) 92:18:53 00:06:12
4. BMC Racing Team (USA) 92:21:55 00:09:14
5. AG2R La mondiale (FRA) 92:22:49 00:10:08
6. Garmin-Barracuda (USA) 92:23:44 00:11:03
7. Unitedhealthcare p/b Maxxis (USA) 92:31:25 00:18:44
8. Colombia – Coldeportes (COL) 92:31:40 00:18:59
9. Omega Pharma-QuickStep (BEL) 92:37:30 00:24:49
10. Bontrager Livestrong Team (USA) 92:48:19 00:35:38
11. Liquigas-Cannondale (ITA) 92:51:51 00:39:10
12. Argos-Shimano (NED) 93:03:09 00:50:28
13. Team Exergy (USA) 93:07:03 00:54:22
14. Team Spidertech Powered by C10 (CAN) 93:10:18 00:57:37
15. Team Optum Presented By Kelly Benefit Strategies (USA) 93:33:57 01:21:16
16. Bissell Pro Cycling (USA) 93:34:32 01:21


Best Young Rider
1. 43 NED19910325 KELDERMAN, Wilco* RAB 30:45:02 00:00:00
2. 145 USA19910512 DOMBROWSKI, Joseph * TLS 30:46:10 00:01:08
3. 62 AUS19910409 DURBRIDGE, Luke* OGE 30:47:35 00:02:33
4. 105 NED19901111 DUMOULIN, Tom* ARG 30:50:01 00:04:59
5. 72 FRA19901109 BARDET, Romain* ALM 30:51:00 00:05:58


King of the Mountain
1. 132 CAN19871002 SALAS, Sébastian OPT 65
2. 113 CAN19900428 BOILY, David * SPI 48
3. 91 COL19880115 ATAPUMA, Jhon COL 27
4. 128 NZL19801006 VENNELL, Jeremy BPC 22
5. 1 USA19711023 HORNER, Christopher RNT 18


Overall Sprint Standings
1. 57 SVK19900126 SAGAN, Peter* LIQ 87
2. 13 AUS19840225 HAUSSLER, Heinrich GRM 54
3. 22 BEL19801015 BOONEN, Tom OPQ 29
4. 63 AUS19891018 HOWARD, Leigh OGE 24
5. 75 FRA19840501 GEORGES, Sylvain ALM 23

Leipheimer, with a recently broken leg, finish 6th over all!


Robert Gesink Edges Atapuma for the Win

Robert Gesink (NED) of Team Rabobank took one of the most difficult stages of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California. The last few meters saw the lead switch between Jhon Atapuma (Columbia-Coldeportes) and Gesink. But Gesink managed to hold on, barely beating Atapuma to the finish.

The Queen Stage went from Ontario up to Mount Baldy. There were three rated climbs. The most difficult was called the “Hors Categorie.” The altitude at the finish line is 6,445 feet.

Today was a day of tactics and strength. Riders opted out of their rooms in Big Bear Lake and headed down to sea level, to help with their recovery. Since the riders informed the USADA officials, no violations were issued.

The race began with a 2.2 mile neutral zone. Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan) made the first attack along with Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). They maintained a slight advantage over the main group.

Michael Matthews (Rabobank) and Nathan Brown (Bontrager Livestrong Team) moved up to replace Dries Devenyns. The breakaway group had a ten second lead over the peleton. The peleton picked up the pace and kept the leaders close.

At eight kilometers from the top, there was a large breakaway group of 14 riders representing seven teams. Team RadioShack-Nissan had four riders in the group. The break had a 1:10 advantage.

As the break crested the climb, the peleton was back 1:50. Team RadioShack-Nissan took the top three spots in the first King of the Mountain. The winner was George Bennett, followed by Jens Voight and Chris Horner.

The peleton tightened the gap on the descent. Meanwhile, T.J. Van Garderen (BMC Pro Cycling) punctured, but was quickly set back in the race. The top of the descent is technical and extremely fast. It’s followed by an open stretch along the reservoir to Glendora.

Rabobank did the work at the front of the peleton as the gap widened to two minutes. They were joined by Garmin-Barracuda. Garmin-Barracuda was interested in keeping Chris Horner manageable. Horner has three teammates in the group.

The men in the breakaway group included: Christopher Horner (USA), RadioShack-Nissan; George Bennett (NZl), RadioShack-Nissan; Grégory Rast (Swi), RadioShack-Nissan; Jens Voigt (Ger), RadioShack-Nissan; Timothy Duggan (USA), Liquigas-Cannondale; Maxime Bouet (Fra), Liquigas-Cannondale; Marc de Maar (Ned), United Healthcare; Bradley White (USA)United Healthcare; Darwin Atapuma (Col) Colombia-ColdePortes; Alexandre Geniez (Fra), Agros-Shimano; Lucas Euser (USA), SpiderTech; Christopher Baldwin (USA), Bissell.

Brad White (United Health Care) dropped from the breakaway group, along with Lucas Euser (Team Spidertech Powered by C10). Euser had mechanical troubles but quickly returned to the break. Chris Horner was the last Radioshack-Nissan man left in the break.

Horner stormed away from the front of the peleton with Darwin Atapuma (Colombia – Coldeportes) and powered past the break, creating a gap of 3:25 on the peleton.

BMC Pro Cycling took up the work at the front of the peleton keeping T.J. Van Gardener in the race.

Atapuma took the second KOM, with Chris Horner second. The gap of 3:45 caused a move out of the peleton. David Zabriskie (Garmin-Barracuda) was surrounded by his teammates and looks relaxed.

BMC Pro Cycling’s work started to pay off. The gap diminished to 2:55. There was still 13 miles to the summit which was mostly uphill. Jeff Louder (United Health Care) popped and abandoned the race.

Chris Horner has been a professional cyclist since 1994. He let Jhon Atapuma, a renowned climber, take the second KOM. The motto of the Columbia-Coldeportes team is “Inspired by Climbing.”

Jens Voight recovered and returned to the main group. He was responsible for propelling Chris Horner into the lead. Luke Durbride (Orica GreenEDGE – Stage 6 Young Rider’s Jersey) moved up to fifth place. Vicenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) was suffering and slipped away.

With six and three quarter miles left to go, the peleton was strung out along the mountain. Zabriskie still looked calm. The BMC Pro Cycling was still shouldering much of the work.

The peleton closed the gap to 1:20 at nine and a half kilometers. BMC Pro Cycling was putting the hammer down and forcing Garmin into a defensive response. BMC Pro Cycling was interested in setting up T.J. Van Garderen for the win.

David Zabriskie was down to one teammate, Tommy Danielson. The Spanish Rabobank rider, Luis Leon Sanchez, along with teammate Wilco Kelderman and Robert Gesink (a top sprinter) picked up the pace. The riders were into the steepest part of the climb.

Levi Leipheimer moved into sixth place. He was the overall winner of the Baldy stage last year.

With the last five kilometers to go, Atapuma broke from Chris Horner, but Horner soon caught him. Meanwhile George Hinncapie (BMC Racing Team) popped, along with yesterday’s stage winner, Sylvan Georges.

Jhon Atapuma launched another acceleration. Robert Gesink (Rabobank) powered out along with Joseph Dombrowski (Bontrager Livestrong Team). Zabriskie looked like he had nothing left.

Gesink continued driving hard. He had Van Garderen and Danielson on his wheel. They managed to close Atapuma’s gap to 35 seconds.

First Gesink bridged the gap and caught Horner. This is the same man who broke his leg in September of last year. He passed him, but it was momentary. Horner quickly caught back up. Dombrowski and Danielson were still in the chase group along with Duarte Arevelo (Columbia-Coldeportes).

With one kilometer to go, Dombrowski left the chase group, leaving Danielson on his own.

Gesink powered through the uphill and finally caught Atapuma’s back wheel. The two sprinted towards the finish. As Atapuma cut the angle, it looked like he was going to take the stage.

Gesink poured it on, barely remaining in control at the final curve. He powered past Atapuma to take the Queen’s Stage of the Tour of California.

Stage 7 Results

1. Robert GESINK, Rabobank at 3:37:08

2. Darwin ATAPUMA HURTADO, Colombia-Coldeportes at s.t.

3. Fabio Andres DUARTE AREVALO, Colombia-Coldeportes at :14

4. Joe DOMBROSKI, Bontrager-Livestrong at :18

5. Thomas DANIELSON, Garmin-Barracuda at :26

6. Christopher HORNER, RadioShack-Nissan at :38

7. Wilco KELDERMAN, Rabobank at 1:04

8. Tiago MACHADO, RadioShack-Nissan at 1:06

9. Levi LEIPHEIMER, Omega Pharma-Quick Step at 1:08

10. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC Racing at 1:22


General Classification

1. Robert GESINK, Rabobank in 29:14:52

2. David ZABRISKIE, Garmin-Barracuda at :46

3. Thomas DANIELSON, Garmin-Barracuda at :54

4. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC Racing at 1:17

5. Fabio Andres DUARTE AREVALO, Colombia-Coldeportes at 1:36

6. Levi LEIPHEIMER, Omega Pharma-Quick Step at 2:13

7. Wilco KELDERMAN, Rabobank at 2:30

8. Christopher HORNER, RadioShack-Nissan at 2:49

9. Tiago MACHADO, RadioShack-Nissan at 2:54

10. Pieter WEENING, Orica-GreenEdge at 3:05