Stage 5 Results: Levi wins time trial & widens overall lead
Discovery Channel Pro's Levi Leipheimer Wins Showdown In Solvang Time Trial As Fans At The 2007 Amgen Tour Of California Surpass 1 Million Mark
SOLVANG, February 23, 2007 – Under sunny skies in Solvang, Calif., Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team's Levi Leipheimer, of Santa Rosa, Calif., further built on his overall lead in today's critical time trial, besting Team CSC's Jens Voigt (GER) by 18 seconds after an eagerly awaited showdown between the two cyclists.
"I've been looking forward to this race for a year now, and for me it's a dream come true to be leading the Amgen Tour of California," said Leipheimer. "I think I sprinted harder today because I didn’t know if I had won. I had nothing left. The moral on Discovery is sky high."
State officials estimate that 1 million fans have attended the 2007 Amgen Tour of California since the San Francisco Prologue on Sunday, putting the race on pace to break its own record as the largest sporting event in California.
"Combining the best collection of cyclists ever to compete in the United States with an incredibly challenging and scenic course, the eyes of the cycling world are clearly focused on the last two days of the Amgen Tour of California," said Shawn Hunter, president of AEG Sports, presenters of the race. "With the title still on the line and two more days of exciting racing to come, we could not have hoped for better finishing stages than we are about to see in Santa Barbara, Santa Clarita and Long Beach."
The 14.5-mile (23.4 km) time trial loop was located in and around the picturesque Danish-themed town of Solvang. Leipheimer covered the course in a time of 29:40.44, with an average speed of 29.4 mph (47.3 kph).
As the overall race leader, Leipheimer was last to start and was reported as 4 seconds faster than Voigt at the halfway point. He picked up time on the climbs, including the twisting Ballard Canyon climb lined with cheering fans, to extend his lead by 14 seconds approaching the line and winning the stage by a comfortable 18 seconds.
Voigt rode to second place with a time of 29:58.51, followed by Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team's Jason McCartney (USA) with a time of 30:05.14. Leipheimer is one step closer to the overall win, retaining his lead by 21 seconds with a total time of 18 hours, 21 minutes and 52 seconds over the past six days of racing. Discovery Channel Pro also holds the overall team lead.
With two stages remaining, Team CSC will meet tonight to consider their options.
“If we really want to turn the whole thing around that means you gotta basically unleash hell on everybody. It’s going to be something like flat out from the start; it depends if we feel like we’re ready for that,” said Voigt after the finish.
Today’s result answers the climax of the 2006 Tour of Germany, in which Voigt beat Leipheimer in the final time trial to win the race.
“We have a good natured rivalry… I said to Jens ‘we’re in California now, and today it’s my turn,’” joked Leipheimer at a press conference today.
Fourth place in today’s time trial was claimed by world champion Fabian Cancellara (SUI), who rides for Team CSC.
As this was a time trial, the lead of the California Travel and Tourism King of the Mountains (KOM) competition did not change with Credit Agricole's Christophe Laurent (FRA) remaining at the front with 26 points. The Herbalife Sprinter’s competition also maintains yesterday's results, with Team CSC's Juan Jose ‘J.J.’ Haedo (ARG) keeping the lead with 28 points.
In the Union Bank Best Young Rider competition, Rabobank's Robert Gesink (NED) took a commanding lead of 41 seconds over Predictor-Lotto’s Matthew Lloyd (AUS). Thomas Peterson (USA), riding for Team Slipstream powered by Chipotle, is in third. Title sponsor Amgen will hold another "Breakaway Mile" tomorrow on the final mile of the course before the peloton streaks into Santa Clarita.
“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 Dr. Steve Elliott, scientific director, Amgen. “Through the Amgen Tour of California sponsorship, we will raise awareness of the medical advances possible through biotechnology while also helping support cancer patients and caregivers through the Breakaway from Cancer™ initiative.”
STAGE 6 TOMORROW:Saturday, Feb. 24 – Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita (105.4 mi/169.6 km)
Estimated Start Time: 11 a.m.
Estimated Finish Time: 2:30-3:30 p.m
This could be the pivotal stage for the 2007 Amgen Tour of California. This is one of the longest stages at 105 miles, and it is heavy on climbs with four KOMs, two Sprints and a demanding finishing circuit in Santa Clarita. With the individual time trial late in the tour, there are several teams in contention for a top-3 general classification place in Long Beach, who may look to attack tomorrow to position themselves for the final day. After a start in view of the Santa Barbara shoreline, this stage, sponsored by Health Net, will be the last chance for teams to dislodge Leipheimer from the overall lead before the circuit race finale in Long Beach. Once the peloton hits Highway 150, the racers will face two KOMs before passing Lake Casitas and riding into the scenic town of Ojai for the first Sprint of the day. The third KOM will be just a few miles outside Ojai, and then the course will head downhill into Santa Paula for the second Sprint of the day among fragrant citrus groves. The ominous Balcom Canyon will be the final climb of the day, where in 2006, nearly 10,000 fans formed a narrow corridor for the riders. The cyclists will end the day with three circuits in Santa Clarita that finish at McBean Parkway at the Valencia Town Center.
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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