Stage 1 Results: Graeme Brown Escapes Crash to Win
Rabobank's Graeme Brown Wins Stage One Of The 2007 Amgen Tour Of California In Photo Finish Minutes After Rider Pile-Up
Record Crowds in Santa Rosa Were on Hand to Watch Celebrated Local Cyclist Levi Leipheimer Ride into Town Wearing the Amgen Leader Jersey and Retain Overall Lead for Second Straight Year
SANTA ROSA, February 19, 2007 – Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California from Sausalito to Santa Rosa ended in a dramatic photo finish win of two centimeters by Rabobank's Graeme Brown (AUS) following a crash on the second circuit around downtown Santa Rosa.
An earlier crash about 70 miles into the race resulted in one of the race favorites, Team CSC's Dave Zabriskie, being forced to abandon the event. He was taken to a local hospital for tests and has been released in good condition with a mild concussion and no fractures or other injuries.
Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team) retained the Amgen Leader's Jersey after a determined dash over the final 30 miles, which was spearheaded by his teammate, Italy's Ivan Basso, to catch a breakaway group of four talented climbers.
"Ivan Basso was ripping it up. I am very proud, very honored to have him lead me into my home town… It feels great (to put on the leader's jersey) here in my home town. I did that last year, and I've been looking forward to repeating that," said Leipheimer.
Rabobank's Graeme Brown (AUS) won the bunch sprint to claim the stage win from T-Mobile Team's Greg Henderson (NZL), with Discovery Channel Pro's Allan Hansen (AUS) placing third.
An undulating 97.1-mile (156.3 km) course with several stiff climbs, including one category four and one category three climb, combined with unrelenting cross-headwinds of 10-15 mph to present a formidable challenge for the peloton.
King of the Mountain contenders Quick Step-Innergetic's Juergen Van de Walle (BEL) of Belgium, and Team Slipstream presented by Chipotle Tom Peterson (USA), of North Bend, Wash., initiated the key attack of the day at 64 miles (103km), taking a group of four away from the peloton on the second King of the Mountain competition climb – a steep Category 3 ascent that rose 827 feet (252m) in only 1.5 miles (2.4km).
Van de Walle went on to say, "If you look at the field in this race, it is the best field before the ProTour races start. I hope we can build on this."
The race came back together shortly before entering Santa Rosa for three laps of a 2.9-mile (4.9km) circuit. After one lap, a rider's hand slipped off the handlebars, which resulted in a large crash. No one was seriously injured, but the delay resulted in the panel of Commissaires determining that the finishing circuits would be neutralized.
Thomas Peterson (Team Slipstream powered by Chipotle) moved into the lead of the King of the Mountains classification. Allan Davis (Discovery Channel Pro) took the lead in the Sprint classification. The Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team leads the overall team classification. T-Mobile Team's Greg Henderson and Discovery Channel Pro's Allan Davis took second and third in the stage respectively.
"Today is what cycling is all about. It was war out there," said Levi Leipheimer. "The crowd that came out was amazing; it was top-notch. I knew when we came into Santa Rosa that there would be a lot of people, but I didn't know it would be that many. For the crowd to come out like that in the U.S. is special."
Top-three general classification leaders after today are Leipheimer, Team Slipstream powered by Chipotle's Jason Donald in second and Priority Health Cycling Team's Benjamin Jacques-Maynes in third.
In addition to the exciting race finish, today's event included a special ride by local cancer survivors who cycled the final mile before the peloton came into the final circuits.
Amgen created the Breakaway from Cancer™ initiative in 2005 as a complementary component to its title sponsorship of the inaugural Amgen Tour of California. Last year, through the Breakaway from Cancer effort, Amgen raised more than $1 million to support The Wellness Community (TWC), an international non-profit organization dedicated to providing free support, education and hope to people affected by cancer. This year, the initiative expanded and also benefits the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS), the oldest survivor-led cancer advocacy organization in the country.
Today’s ‘Breakaway Mile’ took place at the finish line of the Amgen Tour of California, prior to the exciting conclusion of the professional race. The one-mile ride was led by Santa Rosa-area cancer survivors Marilyn Butcher and Bob Hammer. Butcher rode on a tandem bike paired with Amgen scientist Dr. Astrid Ruefil-Brasse who plays a crucial role in developing innovative medicines. Following Butcher and Hammer were each survivor’s peloton, comprised of caregivers, family members and health care professionals who supported their win against cancer.
“Breakaway from Cancer is an integral grassroots component of the Amgen Tour of California that benefits cancer patients across the country,” said Cynthia Schwalm, vice president and general manager, Amgen Oncology. “We honor the courage of patients and their caregivers in their fight against cancer and are proud to sponsor our partners, The Wellness Community and the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship. The cancer survivors who were featured today during the ‘Breakaway Mile,’ along with their supporters and Amgen scientists, are an example of what we can do working together as a team to fight the war against cancer.”
For the latest information on the Breakaway from Cancer campaign and ways to support those living with the illness, visit www.breakawayfromcancer.com.
STAGE 2 TOMORROW:Tuesday, Feb. 20 – Santa Rosa to Sacramento
Estimated Start Time: 10 a.m.
Estimated Finish Time: 2-3 p.m.
Just 12 miles from the start, the peloton will face Trinity Road, one of the toughest climbs of the entire race. The peloton will pass through Sonoma and Napa wineries, Winters and Davis, which was recently crowned the best cycling town in the USA by Bicycle Magazine. The race will end with circuits at Capital Mall in Sacramento.
For full results, archived footage, GPS data, team and course information, race play-by-play and more, please visit the official race Web site at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com
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