Astana’s Levi Leipheimer Wins Individual Time Trial in Stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California for Second Consecutive YearLeipheimer Retains Overall Lead in 2008 Professional Road Race Heading Into Seventh Day
SOLVANG, CALIF., February 22, 2008 – Enthusiastic fans in Solvang welcomed professional cyclists from 17 international and domestic teams for the critical Stage 5 individual time trial of the 2008 Amgen Tour of California. After a challenging day of racing yesterday, the riders were faced with a 15-mile course that was dominated by Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Astana for the second consecutive year. Besting David Millar (GBR) of Slipstream Chipotle Presented by H30 by 29 seconds, Leipheimer further built on his overall lead in the 2008 race and will wear the Amgen Leader Jersey going into Stage 6 tomorrow.
Moving into second and third were Slipstream Chipotle Presented by H30 riders David Millar and Christian Vande Velde (USA), respectively.
Racing on a 15-mile course in surprisingly dry conditions, Leipheimer rolled out of the start gate with confidence. Coming off a savage 135-mile stage on Thursday, most of the cyclists struggled to beat the 33-minute barrier. Of the early riders, Bradley Wiggins (GBR) of High Road posted 32:16, which was good enough to keep the lead for the first part of the day.
But in this ‘race of truth,’ each rider alone against the clock, the competition became tougher as the race went on, and the top-five finishers would crack the 32-minute barrier.
“It was very windy out there,” said Vande Velde, noting the crosswind gusts between buildings in certain sections actually pushed him to a 45-degree position. “I almost got thrown off my bike. I had to settle in.”
Vande Velde was the first rider to break through the 32-minute barrier, posting a 31:31, but that time would soon be beat by another strong rider, his teammate Millar. Millar, a former World Champion and winner of the Tour de France individual time trial, whipped into the finish stretch and posted a seemingly untouchable 31:15.
The most anticipated rider of the day, World Time Trial Champion Fabian Cancellara (SUI) of Team CSC, who demonstrated amazing fitness on Wednesday to take the stage and rival Leipheimer, came in fifth today with a time of 31:51, which put him in fourth place overall going into tomorrow’s stage.
“Today was a statement about my actual fitness,” said Cancellara, who wore the Amgen Leader Jersey on Monday and Tuesday. “I did a very good stage to San Jose and I think I paid the price today.”
All heads swiveled to the monitors to see Leipheimer, clearly on a great ride. Leipheimer hit the tape to post an amazing time of 30:46. Despite wind, turns and hills, he had powered his bike nearly 30 mph for a half hour and crushed the competition at every time split.
“This may be an even bigger win for me than last year,” said Leipheimer. “It was another great day for me here in Solvang. I’m just so happy and proud. I gave it my all today.”
Going into the final two stages, the Astana team will work to help Leipheimer keep the Amgen Leader Jersey and defend his title as the winner of the 2007 Amgen Tour of California.
“Solvang has been fantastic; the support here is tremendous,” said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports, presenter of the race. “The roads were packed and it was a true celebration of American cycling. The time gap between the three leaders is minimal, so we have two terrific days of racing ahead of us.”
Today’s stage didn’t bring any changes to the jersey winners. Dominique Rollin (CAN) of the Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team retained the Herbalife Sprint Leader Jersey and the Tachyon Most Aggressive Rider Jersey for a second day. Scott Nydam (USA) from Team BMC claimed the California Travel and Tourism King of the Mountains Jersey for the third consecutive day. Robert Gesink (NED) of Rabobank held onto the Union Bank of California Best Young Rider Jersey. Slipstream Chipotle Presented by H30 is now leading the team classification.
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 Scott Foraker, vice president research & development operations, Amgen. “Through the Amgen Tour of California sponsorship, we are able to raise awareness of the medical breakthroughs possible through biotechnology while also helping support cancer patients and caregivers through the Breakaway from Cancer initiative.” Amgen created Breakaway from Cancer™ in 2005 as a complementary component to its race sponsorship. The initiative is designed to help empower people affected by cancer and supports the services of two nonprofit organizations – The Wellness Community, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free support, education and hope to people affected by cancer, and National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, the oldest survivor-led cancer advocacy organization in the country.
For the latest information on the Breakaway from Cancer initiative and ways to support those living with the illness, visit breakawayfromcancer.com.
STAGE 6 TOMORROW:Saturday, Feb. 23 – Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita (105.4 mi/169.6 km)
Estimated Start Time: 11 a.m.
Estimated Finish Time: 3-3:30 p.m.
Stage 6 could be the pivotal stage for the 2008 Amgen Tour of California. The stage is one of the longest at 105 miles and it is heavy on climbs with four KOMs, three sprints and a demanding finishing circuit in Santa Clarita. With the individual time trial late in the race again this year, there is the potential for several riders to be separated by just a few seconds as they begin the stage. After a start in view of the Santa Barbara shoreline, this stage, sponsored by Health Net, will take the peloton to Highway 192 and through the outskirts of Carpinteria. The route will then take the riders on Highway 150 where they will face two KOMs before passing Lake Casitas and riding into the scenic town of Ojai. The third KOM will be just a few miles outside Ojai, and then the course will head downhill into Santa Paula. The ominous Balcom Canyon will be the final climb of the day, where in 2007 nearly 25,000 fans formed a narrow corridor for the riders. The cyclists will end the day with three circuit laps 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. In addition to the Web site, fans can view the race on the daily VERSUS broadcasts. Highlights from Stage 6 will air on VERSUS tomorrow at 2 p.m. PST/5 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
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