The sky's the limit for Sky Procycling as they retain the lead for the second consecutive day of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California
Sprinter Greg Henderson Showcases His Talent in a Battle to the Finish in Downtown ModestoMODESTO, Calif. (May 17, 2011) – Stage 3 of the 2011 Amgen tour of California was one of the last stages for the sprinters to showcase their speed at the finish, and the riders did not disappoint. After two fast and furious circuit laps around downtown Modesto, Greg Henderson (NZL) of Sky Procycling not only took the stage win, but also overtook teammate Ben Swift (GBR) to become the overall race leader and earn the Amgen Race Leader Jersey, while keeping his team in the lead. Today's race started in Auburn, appropriately known as the "Endurance Sports Capitol of the World," and took the riders 120 miles before finishing in Modesto in a total time of five hours, 14 minutes and 29 seconds.
"The last 10 kilometers was very chaotic with everyone fighting for the front and multiple changes in direction," said Henderson. "I can't thank my team enough. Jeremy Hunt got me to the final corner and I went with 500 meters to go. I wasn't getting any slower and I was at 200 meters. Ben (Swift) didn't catch up and I only had about five or six pedals to go. It was a surprise to me to win because you don't typically sprint from 500 meters out. Winning today shows that I am in great condition and I was very lucky to hold everyone at the line."
After a neutral start through Old Town Auburn, the race went live and the attacks started right away. A group of seven, made up of riders from UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, Team NetApp, Bissell Pro Cycling, Jelly Belly Cycling p/b Kenda, Jamis-Sutter Home and Kenda/5-Hour Energy Pro Cycling p/b Geargrinder, made their way to the front where they led for the majority of the race. Fifty-eight kilometers into the stage, the race leaders created an advantage of six minutes and 40 seconds, working well together over the rolling hills.
The first intermediate Sprint competition took place in the town of Ione, and Jan Barta (CZE) of NetApp, Christian Meier (CAN) of United Healthcare Pro Cycling and Andy Jacques-Maynes (USA) of Bissell Pro Cycling took first, second and third, respectively. Traversing some of the most beautiful roads of Central California, the race continued on, passing through "Gold Country."
Battling strong headwinds, the bunch was led by Sky Procycling, Team Garmin-Cervelo, HTC-Highroad and RadioShack, who all contributed riders to the front, gaining time on the break at the halfway point of the stage. Around this time, Phillip Gaimon (USA) of Kenda/5-Hour Energy Pro Cycling p/b Geargrinder slipped off the back of the break and it was down to six riders.
Meir crossed the line of the second intermediate Sprint first, followed by Michael Creed (USA) of Kelly Benefit Strategies second and Jacques-Maynes third. Shortly after, the lead broke up and only Barta and Jacques-Maynes remained, fighting a strong crosswind with the group close behind.
"The wind took all my strength today," said Barta. "It wasn't the rain that was difficult because it wasn't that cold. It was the headwind that was by far the toughest thing we faced today. At the end, everybody was tired because it was a long stage and we didn't have enough strength left."
Cranking up the heat, Sky Procycling started to chase, which split the peloton into three clusters, neutralizing the group and leaving only a few riders at the front. Once the group hit the streets of Modesto, Team Spidertech Powered by C10 moved to the front of the peloton taking position for the finish of Stage 3.
After reaching the finish line for the first of two circuit laps, the pace was ratcheted up once again and the peloton began to stretch out. Five riders from Team Spidertech Powered by C10 went out to the front, but were quickly joined by Saxo Bank Sungard and Sky Procycling. With 2.4 kilometers to go, Sky Procycling took control, with Saxo Bank Sungard and Rabobank close behind.
After a chaotic sprint to the finish, which saw two crashes that resulted in only minor injuries, Henderson rocketed to the line to the take the win, followed by JJ Haedo (ARG) of Saxo Bank Sungard and Thor Hushovd (NOR) of Team Garmin-Cervelo.
"I had great help from the team all day and was always well placed," said Hushovd. "Johan (Van Summeren) brought me up a few times and the whole team made sure I was protected. I was in perfect position in the last corner, but the group split and I couldn't bridge the gap. I thought I had a good chance to win today (he won in Modesto in 2009), but I'm happy with third. The team rode great and we're looking forward to some more exciting stages."
Henderson claimed the Amgen Race Leader Jersey. Both the Herbalife Sprint Jersey and Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey went to Peter Sagan (SVK), and Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey was awarded to Barta. The California Travel & Tourism King of the Mountains (KOM) Jersey was not awarded again today, as the stage featured no KOM competitions.
The top-three general classification leaders after today are Henderson in first, Ben Swift (GBR) of Sky Procycling in second and Sagan in third.
As part of title sponsor Amgen's effort to honor and celebrate cancer survivors and to raise awareness about its Breakaway from Cancer® initiative, the Modesto finish featured a Breakaway Mile. Modesto breast cancer survivor Leona Delos Reyes participated in the one-mile walk as Breakaway from Cancer Champion, an honor for which she was selected because of her extensive involvement in the Modesto cancer community as an active participant, volunteer, fundraiser and inspiration.
Delos Reyes was joined by approximately 150 community members – cancer survivors, patients, caregivers and advocates – and Dineli Wickramasinghe, Amgen, director, research, who plays a crucial role in developing innovative medicines to treat cancer and other serious illnesses.
For access to resources or to learn more, visit www.breakawayfromcancer.com.
STAGE 4 TOMORROW:Wednesday, May 18 – Livermore to San Jose (81.1 mi/131.6 km)
Start Time: 11:45 a.m. PT
Estimated Finish Time: 3:15-3:30 p.m. PT
Satellite Feed Time: 4:50 – 5 p.m.
(Coordinates can be found at http://www.amgentourofcalifornia.com/news/media-info.html)
Stage 4 is short, at just 81 miles, but what it lacks in distance it more than makes up for with difficulty. Two of Stage 4's five rated climbs are legendary in California cycling lore. After the cyclists get their legs loosened a bit, the race will head out to Mines Rd. and to the first KOM of the day (and the race). At 25 miles long, it is hilly and winding, which will make it easy for a few riders to get off the front and create significant gaps from the peloton.
Mines Rd. becomes San Antonio Canyon Rd., and after shaking things up with two more KOMs, the riders will face the daunting challenge of Mt. Hamilton, the Tour's first Hors Category climb. Next will be the treacherous descent down the front side of Mt. Hamilton, and almost immediately after finishing the descent, the race will take a turn onto Sierra Rd., a 3.5-mile ascent with a 10 percent average grade and 1,700 feet of climbing.
In honor of cyclist Wouter Weylandt, the young Leopard Trek rider who died tragically while racing in the Giro d'Italia last week, there will be a moment of silence at the beginning of Stage 4 tomorrow, and the race will be led out by Weylandt's team.
For full results, archived footage, GPS data, course information, race play-by-play and more, please visit the official race website at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
In addition to the website, fans can view the race on the daily VERSUS broadcasts. Stage 4 will air live on VERSUS tomorrow at 2 p.m. PT.
STAGE 3 QUOTES
Greg Henderson (NZL), First Place, Stage 3 On winning today
"It was a long day today because we had strong headwinds. I want to give a big thanks to the guys who rode out in front and took the breakaway because they were able to block the wind for us. The last 10 kilometers was very chaotic with everyone fighting for the front and multiple changes in direction. I can't thank my team enough. Jeremy Hunt got me to the final corner and I went with 500 meters to go. I wasn't getting any slower and I was at 200 meters, and Ben Swift didn't catch up and I only had about five or six pedals to go. It was a surprise to me to win because you don't typically sprint from 500 meters out. Winning today shows that I am in great condition and I was very lucky to hold everyone at the line."
On Sky Procycling's ambition
"We came here with a super strong team. Unfortunately, Michael Rogers couldn't come to defend his overall title due to his illness. Our goal is to cover as many stage wins as possible, especially with two world-class sprinters. To beat guys like Levi (Leipheimer), you have to start in front of them and have really high speeds to deliver the winner, and that is what we have shown here the last two days. We can relax a little bit now and tomorrow we head into the mountains. Obviously Team RadioShack, HTC-Highroad and Team Garmin-Cervelo have some pretty big ambitions. We have a young fellow, Chris Froome, who can climb very well. He's our contender for top spot in the GC, so I would start looking for him tomorrow."
On track racing versus road racing
"I can't choose between track and road cycling because they are two different sports. With road cycling you have to be fit enough to ride for six hours. I like them both equally. Unfortunately, my event no longer exists in the Olympics, so that made it an easy decision to switch to road cycling full time."
On what he brings to his team
"Gaining respect in the European peloton was a big goal for me last year. I had six wins with Sky Procycling last year and being consistent is my biggest attribute to the team."
Thor Hushovd (NOR), Third Place, Stage 3 "I had great help from the team all day and was always well placed. Johan (Van Summeren) brought me up a few times and the whole team made sure I was protected. The last few kilometers were chaotic with a lot of crashes. I hope everyone is okay. I was in perfect position in the last corner, but the group split and I couldn't bridge the gap. I thought I had a good chance to win today (he won here in 2009), but I'm happy with third. The team rode great and we're looking forward to some more exciting stages."
Jan Barta (CZE), Amgen Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider Jersey Winner On today's conditions
"The wind took all my strength today. It wasn't the rain that was difficult because it wasn't that cold. It was the headwind that was by far the toughest thing we faced today. At the end, everybody was tired because it was a long stage and we didn't have enough strength left."
On winning two sprints today
"I won the first two sprints today and decided not to go for the third one. I decided it was more important to go for the attack at the sprint line because that was the best time to do it."
Sandra Schmitz, Team NetApp SpokespersonOn today's injuries
"Jesus Del Nero Montes slipped on the yellow center line today. He fell on his head and got back on his bike to race. At this time, we are still figuring out the extent of his injuries. The second crash, with Andrew Schillinger, looks pretty bad and he has a lot of bruising. Since we have been in the breakaway yesterday and today, we used a lot of strength, so we have to see how we feel after today."
On NetApp's goals
"We are a young team, so our goal is to be aggressive and defensive and that was our technique right from the beginning. Also, it is important for us to do well and be on television because this is our only time to show ourselves and our sponsor, NetApp, which is based here in Sunnyville (Calif.). We are very excited that we were invited to race in the Amgen Tour of California this year."
Dr. Ramin Modabber, Chief Medical Doctor, Amgen Tour of CaliforniaFollowing is a list of injuries from Stage 3. All riders were able to get back on their bikes and finish this stage.
- Jens Voigt (Leopard Trek) – left shoulder contusion
- William Dugan (Team Type 1 sanofi) – minor head injuries
- Jesus Del Nero Montes (Team NetApp) – minor head injuries
- Michael Matthews (Rabobank) – shoulder and leg abrasions
- Andrew Schillinger (Team NetApp) – leg abrasions
About the Amgen Tour of CaliforniaThe largest cycling event in America, the2011 Amgen Tour of Californiais a Tour de France-style cycling road race, presented by AEG, that challenges the world's top professional cycling teams to compete along a demanding course through the state from May 15-22. For more information about the Amgen Tour of California, please visit www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
About AmgenAmgen discovers, develops, manufactures, 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, 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, bone disease, and other serious illnesses. With a deep and broad pipeline of potential new medicines, Amgen remains committed to advancing science to dramatically improve people's lives. To learn more about our pioneering science and vital medicines, visit www.amgen.com.
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|Michael Roth||Erin Barrier|