Stage 7 Play by Play16:50:23
For the first time, the final stage of the 2008 Amgen Tour of California was a point-to-point course from Santa Clarita to Pasadena where the race concluded with six circuits around the iconic Rose Bowl in front of a boisterous crowd that lined the streets despite cold, wet weather. A ten-man break initiated by Rock Racing's Mike Creed took off early in the stage with the right mix of riders, none of whom was a threat to the top of the GC. With Astana's Levi Leiphemier comfortably in the overall lead, the break's advantage grew, but never by more than a few minutes. The weather got worse as the riders approached the circuits around the Rose Bowl, which seemed to benefit the break. Bissell's Tom Zirbel, a gifted time trial rider, attacked the break and jetted on a solo flight. He managed to hold off the splintered chase group until the final lap. Creed, HealthNet's Rory Sutherland, CSC's Jason McCartney and High Road's George Hincapie countered and settled the day in a thrilling dash to the line. One of America's most popular riders, Hincapie claimed the top prize as winner of Stage 7, sponsored by Amgen. Hincapie won two stages at the first Amgen Tour of California two years ago.
When Leipheimer crossed the finish line safely, he became the first repeat winner of the Amgen Tour of California. Team Slipstream riders David Millar and Christian Vande Velde finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.
It has been an honor and a privilege being your eyes & ears at the 3rd Amgen Tour of California. I'm Rick Scott and I want to thank you for following the race with us. I couldn't have done it without amazing support from Andrew Lim, Kristin Bachochin, Todd Howk, Tracy Beach, Dan "brother from another mother" Scott, Lauren Mirson, and our online broadcast wizards Frankie Andreu & Fantastic Joe Silva. Stay with us all year long on the Amgen Tour of California website for my regular column, "The Weekly Rap," along with other cycling features throughout the year. I wish you peace, love & cycling joy.
16:17:24 Toyota-United's Dominique Rollin has indeed won the Herbalife Sprint jersey. BMC's Scott Nydam won the California Travel & Tourism King of the Mountains. Rabobank's Robert Gesink won the Best Young Rider jersey for the second consecutive year.
16:14:42 We've all been touched by cancer in someway, either ourselves or a loved one. You can make a difference by supporting Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer initiative, which empowers patients and their caregivers with education and hope so they can live well with the disease. When you text the word DONATE to 222377, you'll contribute $2.00 to the cause. You will receive discounts valid at the Amgen Tour of California online store and you'll automatically be entered to win daily prizes and a chance to win a 2009 Amgen Tour of California VIP Getaway.
16:14:13 Get yourself a keepsake from this year's exciting race at the Amgen Tour of California online store. Plenty of great-looking merchandise is available including men's & women's jerseys, T-shirts, sweatshirts, fleeces, hats and other fun items, including the official Amgen Tour of California Collector's Bell, which is made from recycled spent cartridges from Norwegian Military practices ranges. Everything is available today at a 20% discount when you use the merchandise code ALL2008 at checkout.
16:08:23 It looks like Cavendish took the field sprint. Not sure if Rollin held onto the Herbalife Sprint jersey, but I think he did. We'll post all the stage and final GC standings on this site as soon as they are available.
16:06:02 McCartney had launched and Hincapie shot around him with Sutherland taking 2nd.
16:04:47 Levi Leipheimer has won the 2008 Amgen Tour of California.
16:03:58 The field has crossed the line as well.
16:03:22 Hincapie takes it!
16:02:57 1 km to go!
16:02:36 Sutherland is at the front followed by Hincapie and McCartney. Creed joins them.
16:01:25 Everyone is looking at Hincapie. It's a 3-man race.
16:00:33 McCartney is about to hitch onto the duo and he does.
15:59:58 Hincapie & Sutherland are nearing the final km of this race.
15:59:41 Hincapie has responded.
15:59:08 Sutherland has launched an attack.
15:58:13 Five men are at the front now.
15:57:26 They're caught by the other chasers and Creed has countered.
15:56:39 He did catch them. 3 men are up now.
15:56:07 Hincapie and Sutherland have caught and passed Zirbel.
15:55:32 Hincapie is driving the chase over one of the hills. Zirbel looks like he's struggling.
15:54:06 Astana is at the head of the peloton, but they look like they have given up the chase. One of the five men ahead will win this final stage.
15:53:34 15 seconds advantage for Zirbel over the chase group.
15:52:48 One lap to go for Tom Zirbel of Bissell with four men chasing behind. Can he hold them off?
15:52:01 8 km left for Zirbel.
15:50:07 The rain is steady and Astana is at the front of the field guiding their leader, Leipheimer, home to claim his second Amgen Tour of California title.
15:48:22 Zirbel motors along being chased by four men followed by the peloton. The chase can see Zirbel, but they haven't been able to nail him back.
15:47:25 Astana is driving the field now.
15:44:41 Zirbel stands to get over the rolling roads circling the Rose Bowl.
15:43:56 The other 5 men who were part of the original break have been caught by the peloton. They are 2 minutes back of Zirbel.
15:42:55 The chasers are 15 seconds behind Zirbel.
15:42:14 The peloton is whipping along with Quick Step at the front as Zirbel has 2 laps to go – 9 miles.
15:41:02 Zirbel is tucked in time trial position and he is tick, tick, ticking away the miles.
15:38:59 The four chasers are looking at each other and look like they’re slowing down to discuss strategy. They need to get it together if they want to chase down Zirbel.
15:36:18 Zirbel is still off on his own and is being chased by Creed, Sutherland, Hincapie and McCartney.
15:34:20 The peloton is down about 2:07.
15:33:01 Less than 14 miles left in the 2008 Amgen Tour of California.
15:31:57 3 laps to go for Zirbel.
15:31:20 Sutherland has joined the chase.
15:30:48 Zirbel has 35 seconds on the chasers.
15:30:07 Quick Step are burying themselves at the front of the field on the chase. They are down 2 minutes as the rain pelt the peloton.
15:29:09 The four are working in tandem in pursuit of Tom Zirbel.
15:25:44 A few riders have joined Sutherland including Hincapie, Creed and McCartney.
15:24:36 The break is up 2:30. Zirbel is in perfect time trial mode.
15:22:36 Four laps to go for Zirbel – 18 miles to go. Sutherland is chasing and then there are the other 8 men from the original break.
15:21:10 Astana is protecting Leipheimer near the front as well to keep him safe.
15:20:09 Quick Step and Rabobank are doing the work now in support of their sprinters – Tom Boonen, Paolo Bettini and Oscar Friere, all of whom have been and/or are World Champions.
15:18:34 9 men are chasing him and further back is the field, including world class sprinters and the yellow jersey on the back of Levi Leipheimer.
15:18:06 The streets look flooded in place as Zirbel motors along on a solo flight.
15:15:09 It's absolutely pouring rain. I'm Rick Scott, your eyes & ears at the Amgen Tour of California bringing you live action of Stage 7 from the Pasadena Rose Bowl.
15:14:07 The field crosses the finish line with 5 laps to go for them.
15:13:26 Zirbel is riding alone with less than 22 miles to go. The rain is coming down hard now.
15:12:40 Zirbel is up 10-15 seconds ahead of the break.
15:12:05 Five laps to go for the break.
15:11:29 The current gap for the break is 2 minutes. The rain is picking up.
15:10:52 Zirbel has countered and opened up a gap. He's a strong time trial rider. He has established a gap.
15:09:44 Creed has attacked now and Champion and Hincapie have joined him. The break is eating itself.
15:08:46 The field is riding single file, strung out from the speed.
15:08:17 The circuit has rolling roads and fast sprint sections. Sutherland is now riding with a small gap on the break with an immediate reaction from Hincapie.
15:06:38 The riders in the break are shedding their jackets and rain capes.
15:05:28 The break is back together as Hincapie led the chase.
15:04:25 Astana and Rabobank drive the front of the field through the finish line. Six laps to go for the field. The gap is still at 2 minutes. McCartney has just attacked the break.
15:02:49 The peloton is 1 km from the sprint line.
15:01:22 Huge crowd lining the road on the Rose Bowl circuit.
15:00:34 1 km to the Herbalife Sprint for the break.
14:59:26 Gap is 2 minutes for the break.
14:58:37 The field is 5 km from the Herbalife Sprint, which is the first time they cross the finish line at the Rose Bowl circuit. Angel Gomez of Sanier Duval-Scott is getting a wheel change.
14:57:05 The break has eased up a bit in preparation for the finishing circuit they're about to commence.
14:55:33 Despite the weather, there is an enormous crowd awaiting the riders here in Pasadena.
14:53:55 The break is at mile 62.5.
14:52:53 The break is holding at 2:10. We're at mile 60 of the 93 on tap for today.
14:51:43 It is raining here at the finish. Talabardon is back in the break as they finish their descent and prepare to enter the Rose Bowl circuit.
14:50:05 The riders are carefully picking their way through the corners on the descent. Credit Argricole's Talabardon is losing contact with the break by riding overly cautious. My friends & teammates know I'd be riding the same way.
14:47:48 The gap is at 2:10.
14:45:18 The riders are winding their way towards the Rose Bowl where the final Herbalife Sprint takes place with about 25 miles left in the race. Points and 3, 2 & 1-second time bonuses are at stake. They'll complete six circuits around the Rose Bowl.
14:41:32 Toyota-United's Henk Vogels has abandoned, which is a shame for the green jersey Dominique Rollin as Vogels is his lead-out man. Two men could swipe the green jersey from Rollin depending upon what happens in the second and final Herbalife Sprint and the finishing sprint. Gerald Ciolek and J.J. Haedo are still in contention in that competition.
14:39:12 The break is up 2:40. There's thick fog and rain on the descent.
14:34:59 2:50 advantage for the break.
14:32:55 Rabobank has come to the front of the field to help set tempo with Astana.
14:32:11 It's starting to drizzle here at the finish at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
14:28:52 Zirbel clawed his way back to the break.
14:27:46 Zirbel has lost contact with his breakaway companions.
14:26:46 In the break are George Hincapie, Mike Creed, Jason McCartney, Yannick Talabardon, Oliver Zaugg, Dimitri Champion, Danny Pate, Taylor Tolleson, Rory Sutherland and Tom Zirbel.
14:24:51 We've all been touched by cancer in someway, either ourselves or a loved one. You can make a difference by supporting Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer initiative, which empowers patients and their caregivers with education and hope so they can live well with the disease. When you text the word DONATE to 222377, you'll contribute $2.00 to the cause. You will receive discounts valid at the Amgen Tour of California online store and you'll automatically be entered to win daily prizes and a chance to win a 2009 Amgen Tour of California VIP Getaway.
14:23:55 It's not raining in Pasadena yet. The break is up 3:20.
14:20:16 Leipheimer dropped to the back of the field and is now working his way back up the comfort of his Astana teammates. He stopped to talk to CSC about something. The break is up 3 minutes.
14:18:17 It's raining again and the riders have their jackets and rain capes back on.
14:16:53 Three more abandons: Aaron Tuckerman (Jelly Belly), Edward King (Bissell) and Nick Waite (Kelly Benefits). Fred Rodriguez just crashed in the tunnel the peloton just rode through, but he's back up riding again.
14:14:47 You can watch the race live on our site. Frankie Andreu & Fantastic Joe Silva are calling the action. You're invited to send us your comments and questions by emailing us at ATOC2008@yahoo.com.
14:12:02 Creed is tucked back into the break. I'm Rick Scott giving you live coverage of Stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California. Today's stage is sponsored by Amgen. Rollin is receiving a rear wheel now from the team car. The break is up 1:50.
14:09:59 We've all been touched by cancer in someway, either ourselves or a loved one. You can make a difference by supporting Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer initiative, which empowers patients and their caregivers with education and hope so they can live well with the disease. When you text the word DONATE to 222377, you'll contribute $2.00 to the cause. You will receive discounts valid at the Amgen Tour of California online store and you'll automatically be entered to win daily prizes and a chance to win a 2009 Amgen Tour of California VIP Getaway.
14:08:58 The gap is only 1:35 to the 10-men off the front.
14:08:18 The field is at mile 42 of 93 and it's 42 degrees.
14:07:30 The California Travel & Tourism category 3 KOM climb of Millcreek Summit went to Creed, Talabardon, Tolleson, Zaugg and McCartney. Rollin has rejoined the field after his flat.
14:06:00 The 10-man break is up 1:50.
14:03:53 Creed is whipping down the descent as fast as he can while the other 9 men in the break are all together. The Herbalife Sprint leader Dominique Rollin has flatted and is getting a wheel.
14:02:10 The splintered field is clearing the summit and riders are putting on jackets for the descent.
14:00:46 Creed is rocketing down the descent. Astana is back at the front with Quick Step and they are all on the rivet pushing the pace up the KOM.
13:59:08 Creed stands to lift the pace to pedal away from a loco fan who we've seen on the climbs all week wearing a yellow football helmet with immense elk antlers. Dave Zabriskie has ridden up to the chasers, joining the trio that includes his teammate Peterson. Astana needs to pay attention to him. Slipstream has launched another attack and they have Astana in trouble.
13:54:15 The other two chasers are interested in the Best Young Rider jersey: Slipstream's Tom Peterson and Rabobank's Robert Gesink.
13:52:32 Creed is still off the front 20 seconds ahead of the break. Three riders are chasing the break from the peloton, including Creed's teammate Victor Hugo Pena. It's 44 degrees up there in the mountains.
13:50:42 Yesterday's stage winner Luciano Pagliarini of Saunier Duval-Scott has abandoned.
13:48:29 The field is 5 km away from the KOM summit.
13:46:11 Creed has opened up a 10-second gap on his breakaway companions.
13:44:03 There are dark, low clouds ahead as the field enters the feed zone. The break is up 3:05.
13:41:42 The break is in the feed zone, which is on a steady uphill section.
13:36:24 The California Travel & Tourism KOM at the top of the monstrous Millcreek Summit comes at 37.7 miles/60.7 kms. The race organizers drove the course this morning to make sure the roads were passable and they indeed are. With all the rain, wind and cold temperatures we've had overnight, officials had to have a Plan B ready in case of snow.
13:31:45 The gap is now 3 minutes as the break is 50 km into the 150-km stage.
13:29:48 Creed got that cut taped up. It might have been caused in a crash with his Rock Racing teammates Cipollini & Fast Freddie yesterday.
13:28:41 Get yourself a keepsake from this year's exciting race at the Amgen Tour of California online store. Plenty of great-looking merchandise is available including men's & women's jerseys, T-shirts, sweatshirts, fleeces, hats and other fun items, including the official Amgen Tour of California Collector's Bell, which is made from recycled spent cartridges from Norwegian Military practices ranges. Everything is available today at a 20% discount when you use the merchandise code ALL2008 at checkout.
13:25:36 The first Herbalife Sprint points and 3, 2 & 1-second time bonuses went to Creed, Talabardon and Pate.
13:23:42 The break is at 3:20. The feed zone comes at the 34-mile/55-km point.
13:22:19 The break is rolling along with everyone taking their turn at the front.
13:20:10 The road is a steady uphill stretch and the roads are dry for the most part. It's an odd mix of sun & blue skies along with massive, dark threatening clouds. The break rolled over the Herbalife Sprint without contention as they are focused on building their gap. Creed is bleeding from his hand and has called for medical attention.
13:14:21 Mario Cipollini is back in the field after a wheel change and Rabobank's Pedro Horrillo Munoz is getting a wheel now.
13:09:32 I'm Rick Scott, your eyes & ears at the 2008 Amgen Tour of California. It's Stage 7, sponsored by Amgen, the final stage from Santa Clarita to Pasadena at 93 miles/150 kms. We have a 10-man break up the road 3:10. With none of them a threat to the overall, Levi Leipheimer's Astana squad has let the break go. The break is 5 km from the first Herbalife Sprint.
13:05:54 We've all been touched by cancer in someway, either ourselves or a loved one. You can make a difference by supporting Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer initiative, which empowers patients and their caregivers with education and hope so they can live well with the disease. When you text the word DONATE to 222377, you'll contribute $2.00 to the cause. You will receive discounts valid at the Amgen Tour of California online store and you'll automatically be entered to win daily prizes and a chance to win a 2009 Amgen Tour of California VIP Getaway.
12:59:43 The gap is up 2:45. The weather is starting to look a bit iffy.
12:56:36 The gap is holding at 2:30.
12:56:02 Bouygues Telecom's Dimitri Champion had a mechanical to deal with, but he's rejoined the break.
12:53:49 The gap is 2:15 as the field spins uphill. Fans are already gathering at the finish in Pasadena where they will be treated to six 5-mile circuits to conclude the stage and the race. If you are in the area, you must come see the pageantry of professional bicycle racing at its absolute best.
12:50:49 The break is at 1:55 as they move towards the first Herbalife Sprint, which comes at Acton at mile 26/km 41.8.
12:46:28 Back in the field, Astana and Quick Step are setting tempo. The break is up 1:50.
12:45:21 Get yourself a keepsake from this year's exciting race at the Amgen Tour of California online store. Plenty of great-looking merchandise is available including men's & women's jerseys, T-shirts, sweatshirts, fleeces, hats and other fun items, including the official Amgen Tour of California Collector's Bell, which is made from recycled spent cartridges from Norwegian Military practices ranges. Everything is available today at a 20% discount when you use the merchandise code ALL2008 at checkout.
12:41:51 With no GC threats in the break, the gap has grown to 1:45.
12:38:53 In the break are Hincapie, Creed, Jason McCartney, Yannick Talabardon, Oliver Zaugg, Champion, Danny Pate, Tolleson, John Murphy and Tom Zirbel.
12:34:58 The gap is 1:10.
12:33:21 The break is now up 55 seconds.
12:30:20 It's 10 riders in the reformed break.
12:27:59 Hincapie has bridged up and he's working with Creed, who looks super motivated today.
12:26:50 Creed is still driving the break. He keeps looking back yelling at the guys to help. He just split the break now and even dropped Voigt.
12:25:29 Creed is off the front of the break trying to lift the pace. Scott Nydam of BMC, the KOM leader, has joined the break as well. They only have 10 seconds as the road has started to go uphill.
12:24:36 One of the chasers caught on and it looks like Jens Voigt of CSC.
12:22:54 The break consists of Creed, Ollerenshaw, Scott Zwizanski, John Murphy, Reid Mumford, Taylor Tolleson, Perrig Quemeneur, Dimitri Champion. They are up 20 seconds and there are two men chasing. The temperature is 53 degrees.
12:16:23 Their advantage is 15 seconds. Mike Creed is up there from Rock Racing as is Steven Cozza from Slipstream, who has consistently been in the breaks, including yesterday's all-day affair.
12:14:19 Just like that, Doug Ollerenshaw of Rock Racing launches off the front. A handful of riders have joined him. Now it's up to 9 men as the rain is falling steadily.
12:12:11 The race is underway with Astana locked and loaded at the front of the field.
12:10:09 Less than a mile to go until the race officially gets underway.
12:06:48 The peloton is also bundled up in anticipation of more rain and the frigid temperatures they'll encounter at the top of Millcreek Summit.
12:03:48 Fred Rodriguez did take the start, which is great to see.
12:02:38 You can watch the race live on our site with broadcasters Frankie Andreu & Fantastic Joe Silva. We'd love to hear from you if you have comments or questions. Our email address is ATOC2008@yahoo.com.
12:01:00 It's a neutral start for 3.5 miles. It is raining and the riders are again cloaked in rain capes.
11:59:53 The riders are lining up for the start in Santa Clarita where it is wet. It's dry here at the finish in Pasadena where even the sun is poking through some of the dark clouds floating above the Rose Bowl and the San Gabriel Mountains hovering in the background. 1 minute until the start.
11:44:08 For the first time, the Amgen Tour of California concludes with a point-to-point race. The route includes two Herbalife Sprints and one California Travel & Tourism King of the Mountains. The category 3 Millcreek Summit climb goes to 4,906 feet, the highest point ever reached in this race. But the summit is a long way from the finishing circuits in Pasadena around the famed Rose Bowl. Even if someone attacks on the climb, there is plenty of time for the teams of the sprinter's to bring it back.
11:38:43 We're currently experiencing technical difficulties. Please bare with us. Thanks for your patience.
11:36:19 Today's stage is the final day in this year's race and Astana's Levi Leipheimer is in yellow, poised to win his second consecutive Amgen Tour of California title. Team Slipstream has David Millar in 2nd down 49 seconds and Christian Vande Velde in 3rd 1:08 in arrears. Behind them is a pair from CSC: Fabian Cancellara is down 1:18 and Gustav Larsson is back 1:19. Look for both Slipstream and CSC to be aggressive today, trying to crack Leipheimer and his Astana squad.
11:31:26 It's been anything but the typical California sunshine and warm weather this week at the 2008 Amgen Tour of California. It's soggy in Southern California this morning, the scene for Stage 7, sponsored by Amgen. Good morning. I'm Rick Scott and we're happy to have you with us for live race coverage beginning at 12 PM PST. The atrocious weather conditions along with a stomach virus have combined to decimate the field. Of the 132 starters, we're down to only 91 riders, which may be 90 depending upon whether or not Rock Racing's Fred Rodriguez takes the start after crashing during the finishing circuits yesterday. He's banged and bruised and will decide at start time if he'll ride today's 93-mile/150-km stage from Santa Clarita to Pasadena's Rose Bowl.
10:14:14 Update: Following course assessment for safety and conditions, there have been no changes to the route for the final stage of the 2008 Amgen Tour of California. The race will continue as planned heading from Santa Clarita to Pasadena.