Six-Time Canadian National Road Champion Dominique Rollin Rolls Away to Win Epic Stage 4 of Amgen Tour of CaliforniaCalifornia Resident Levi Leipheimer Retains Leader Jersey for Second Consecutive Day
SAN LUIS OBISPO, February 21, 2008 – Six-time Canadian National Road Champion Dominique Rollin (CAN) of the Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team made history today as he powered away to an impressive solo victory in Stage 4 of the 2008 Amgen Tour of California. Weather hammered the peloton for nearly seven hours as the stage took riders down the California coast from Seaside to San Luis Obispo on an impressive and challenging course. Defending champion Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Astana was able to retain the overall lead and will wear the Amgen Leader Jersey going into the individual time trial in Solvang tomorrow.
“Last time I raced in such tough weather, I won the stage,” said Rollin, referring to a stormy day in Quebec’s 2005 Tour de Beauce. “The worse it is, the better I am. When the wind came, I said keep it coming.”
Thursday morning brought cold rain to the longest stage of the eight-day Amgen Tour of California. At 135 miles, the picturesque stage along Highway 1 would prove to be a long, difficult trek masked by clouds, drizzle and a steady 30-mph headwind. But in cycling, such problems provide opportunities.
At the start of the race, strong man Henk Vogels (AUS) of the Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team launched an attack, which preempted several counterattacks. However, it would be Rollin who blasted up the road with Jackson Stewart (USA) of Team BMC to take the lead. Others soon joined the breakaway, including George Hincapie (USA) of High Road, Iker Camano (ESP) of Saunier Duval-Scott, Bryce Meade (USA) of the Jelly Belly Cycling Team and Edward King (USA) of BISSELL Pro Cycling. Eventually, the break would grow to include 11 riders, and their gap on the field grew to 4:35.
“We were thinking of setting up the sprint for Mark Cavendish (GBR). I decided to go across just to be represented,” said Hincapie, the legendary veteran who arrived to find a solid tempo being set by the young Americans. “This is the biggest race in the U.S. These guys have everything in the world to prove. I remember when I was a young rider in a big race; this is the one shot to prove yourself.”
The field, meanwhile, remained content to allow Astana, riding to protect overall leader Leipheimer, to churn away at the front. Team CSC, with its leader Fabian Cancellara (SUI) just 13 seconds behind Leipheimer in the overall standings, rode in the second spot.
Five hours into the race, the weather conditions caused some of the strongest men in the field to dissolve. Stewart and Meade would leave the breakaway and abandon the race due to signs of hypothermia. More than a dozen others would abandon the race due to the collapse in their core temperatures.
“He went from being an animator, taking all the KOMs, being in control of everything he wanted to do,” said Gavin Chilcott, team director of Team BMC, of Stewart. “He was in control of all that until he lost control of his core temperature. You can’t operate your brakes.”
As the peloton continued their charge with nearly two hours to go, Rollin’s confidence grew. “With 40 km to go I started looking around and realized I was the strongest guy in the break,” said Rollin, who raced three years in France before racing in the American pro ranks last season. “With 20 km to go, I managed to get three or four meters and could see the guys weren’t reacting.”
George Hincapie (USA) of High Road chased valiantly hoping to post the win near the San Luis Obispo headquarters of his team, but fell short by 17 seconds to finish second. Camano finished just behind Hincapie in third.
“It was definitely pretty epic as far as conditions go,” said Hincapie, who rode in the break most of the day.
The field finished 2:27 down on Rollin. Leipheimer remained in the lead, just ahead of Cancellara going into the critical Stage 5 individual time trial.
In addition to the stage win, Rollin took the Herbalife Sprint Leader Jersey and the Tachyon Most Aggressive Rider Jersey. Today's California Travel and Tourism King of the Mountain Jersey was, once again, awarded to Scott Nydam (USA) from Team BMC. Robert Gesink (NED) of Rabobank held onto the Union Bank of California Best Young Rider Jersey.
Amgen’s celebration of cancer survivors continued today with San Luis Obispo-area husband and wife cancer survivors Justin and Deborah Baldwin riding in the Breakaway Mile, a special one-mile honorary ride across the finish line celebrating local cancer survivors and their support teams. At the same hour, on the same day in September 2003, married couple Justin and Deborah Baldwin each learned they were being diagnosed with cancer. Justin was diagnosed with tonsil cancer and Deborah with breast cancer. Cancer-free today, the Baldwins were joined by their support group of friends who helped them during their fight and Amgen scientist Dr. Steve Elliot, who plays a crucial role in developing innovative medicines.
This was one of four Breakaway Miles taking place during the Amgen Tour of California in support of Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer™ initiative, which raises awareness of the valuable services and programs, provided free of charge, that help people living with cancer. Inspired to make a difference following their experience, Justin and Deborah are founding members of The Wellness Community of the Central Coast Valley/Ventura, a center that offers support and hope for the more than 1,100 cancer patients in the region that are diagnosed annually, as well as the area’s countless cancer survivors.
“Breakaway from Cancer is an integral, complementary component of the Amgen Tour of California, and it benefits cancer patients nationwide,” said Dr. Steve Elliott, scientific executive director, Amgen. “We honor the courage of patients and their caregivers in their fight against cancer and we are proud to support our partners, The Wellness Community and the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship. Deborah and Justin, their support team and my fellow Amgen scientists are all excellent examples of what we can do working together to fight the war against cancer.”
For the latest information on the Breakaway from Cancer initiative and ways to support those living with the illness, visit breakawayfromcancer.com.
STAGE 5 TOMORROW:Friday, Feb. 22 – Solvang Time Trial (15 mi/24.1 km) Estimated Start Time: Noon
Estimated Finish Time: 2:45 p.m.
The quaint Danish village of Solvang annually hosts some of the ProTour teams for training camps, as well as some of the largest cycling events in the United States. At only 15 miles, slightly longer than the 2007 individual time trial, and with the start and finish lines located only one block apart, Stage 5 is an ideal location for spectators to view the race. The route will highlight some of the most beautiful areas of Central California, winding through quaint towns, vineyards, farms and one short, but steep, climb. This year's flat and fast time trial will create a challenging test for the riders and is expected to be a decisive day of the race.
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. In addition to the Web site, fans can view the race on the daily VERSUS broadcasts. Highlights from Stage 5 will air on VERSUS tomorrow at 11 p.m. EST.
About the Amgen Tour of CaliforniaThe largest cycling event in America, the 2008 Amgen Tour of California is a Tour de France-style road race presented by AEG that will challenge the world’s top professional cycling teams to compete along a demanding 650-mile course from Palo Alto-Stanford University to Pasadena from February 17-24, 2008.
About AmgenAmgen discovers, develops and delivers innovative human therapeutics. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realize the new science's promise by bringing safe and effective medicines from lab, to manufacturing plant, to patient. Amgen therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other serious illnesses. With a broad and deep pipeline of potential new medicines, Amgen remains committed to advancing science to dramatically improve people's lives. To learn more about Amgen's pioneering science and vital medicines, visit www.amgen.com.
About AEGAEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Anschutz Company, owns or controls a collection of companies including facilities such as STAPLES Center, The Home Depot Center, Sprint Center, The O2, NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE and NOKIA Theatre Times Square; sports franchises including the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), two Major League Soccer franchises, a Major League Lacrosse team, two hockey franchises operated in Europe, management of privately held shares of the Los Angeles Lakers, the ING Bay to Breakers foot race and the Amgen Tour of California cycling road race; AEG LIVE, the organization’s live-entertainment division, is a collection of companies dedicated to all aspects of live contemporary music performance, touring and a variety of programming and multi-media production. For more information, visit AEG today at www.aegworldwide.com.
# # #
Media Contacts - Amgen Tour of California