Van Garderen Looking to Seal Overall Victory in BMC Racing Team's Hometown
Cyclists Face Off for Overall Honors Sunday, Racing from San Francisco to Santa Rosa Via Golden Gate Bridge
MT. DIABLO, Calif. (May 18, 2013) – In one of the greatest climbs ever in American cycling, the epic 3,865-foot uphill trail to the Amgen Tour of California's first summit finish on Mt. Diablo in Stage 7 today served as a battleground for attacks and breakaways, with Team NetApp-Endura's Leopold König (CZE) overtaking Team Jamis-Hagens Berman's Janier Alexis Acevedo (COL) in the final meters to win the stage.
"The entire race I felt good. I had good legs today," said König. "To be truthful, I like alpine-top finishes, and thought I could win today. This is the biggest win so far (career) for me. But, hopefully more in the future."
Yesterday's climb up Metcalf Road at the end of the San Jose time trial foreshadowed the result of today's uphill finish. After posting two of the fastest climbs yesterday, König and Acevedo attacked the three-man leader group in the final two miles at one of the steepest points of the route. Pulling ahead to a 20-second advantage over the peloton, it was either rider's stage to win until the final 200 meters when König went clear to seal the victory.
BMC Racing Team worked hard to control the peloton up the mountain to put team leader Tejay van Garderen (Boulder, Colo.) in position to finish the stage in third place and secure the Amgen Race Leader Jersey he gained after Stage 5 for the 8-stage race's conclusion tomorrow. Crossing the finish line just after van Garderen was 2010 Amgen Tour of California champion Michael Rogers (AUS) of Team Saxo-Tinkoff, who trails the overall leader by 1 minute, 47 seconds. van Garderen and BMC Racing Team will be looking to defend the yellow jersey and take the overall victory tomorrow in Santa Rosa, Calif., where the team is headquartered.
"It was an unbelievable team effort. I knew they were strong. I knew they were motivated. But they went above and beyond. They made my life somewhat easy out there, but it was still a hard day." said van Garderen, taking note of the meandering 10-mile climb up Mt. Diablo, which is situated east of Oakland. "The climb was beautiful. I heard they wouldn't let bikes up the last two kilometers, so to see so many people hike the final way up was amazing."
Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team's Lieuwe Westra (NED) was awarded his third type of special award jersey today, donning the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey after spending most of the day in a breakaway the initiated after the morning's start in Livermore. In the final 10 miles of today's stage, one by one, the lead riders fell back into the peloton as they toiled to the top of Mt. Diablo, with Westra and Team NetApp-Endura's David De La Cruz (ESP) holding out as the only remaining escapees until the final miles when several attacks changed the leader landscape.
Westra constantly attacked throughout the day saying he hoped he would "win another stage" and even "make it to the podium for the final day." His breakaway group grew their lead through the day to a maximum of four minutes, which the peloton closed to about 30 seconds at the base of Mt. Diablo. As the final 10 miles up Mt. Diablo steepened, various teams took the opportunity to attack. A bold move in mile 88 by RADIOSHACK LEOPARD TREK's Jens Voigt (GER) recalled his solo uphill attack yesterday to claim the stage. Closing the leader gap to 15 seconds, Voigt was then overtaken by Francisco Mancebo Perez (ESP) of 5-hour ENERGY presented by Kenda Racing Team, in an attempt to catch the leaders (Westra and De La Cruz) before the finish.
With about two miles left to ride, Mancebo had the two leaders in his sights and quickly gained the lead, just as Voigt fell back into the peloton, where Janier Alexis Acevedo was making a move to the front. Acevedo then broke away from the peloton with 1.8 miles left to go in a bid to make up the 34 seconds that would put him in third place overall ahead of ORICA GreenEDGE's Cameron Meyer (AUS). Acevedo's uphill work paid off, and he will head into the final day of racing tomorrow defending the third-place overall podium spot :6 ahead of BMC Racing Team's Mathias Frank (SUI) and :7 ahead of Meyer.
Today's stage saw no changes to the other leader jerseys: Cannondale Pro Cycling's Peter Sagan (SVK) will continue in the Visit California Sprint Jersey, though only one point separates him from Team Garmin-Sharp's Tyler Farrar (Seattle, Wash.), who will be vying for a jersey change tomorrow. With no mountains in tomorrow's stage, BISSELL Pro Cycling's Carter Jones (Boulder, Colo.) has clinched the Nissan King of the Mountain Jersey, which he's worn since the first day of racing; and Bontrager Cycling Team's 21-year-old Lawson Craddock (Austin, Texas) will continue for the final day in the Crunchies Best Young Rider Jersey, which he claimed in Stage 2.
Now in its eighth year, the 2013 Amgen Tour of California is running south to north for the first time, covering nearly 750 miles of California's most scenic highways, roadways and coastlines over eight days, concluding in Santa Rosa, Calif., tomorrow. With one of the most difficult courses in race history, 111 elite cyclists (127 riders began the race, though several have been eliminated or abandoned due to time cuts, injury or illness) will compete through 12 Host Cities and 60,000 feet of climbing, a record for the race.
An important partner since the race's inception, Amgen returns this year as the race title sponsor.
"Amgen is proud to be part of this successful race, which is helping advance the popularity of cycling in America while also helping increase awareness of the resources that are available to those affected by cancer," said Rolf Hoffmann, senior vice president of U.S. Commercial Operations at Amgen. "The Breakaway from Cancer nonprofit partners collectively offer people affected by cancer a broad range of support services complementing those provided by a patient's team of healthcare professionals."
Today cancer survivor Virginia (Dee) Williams was honored and celebrated at the final Breakaway Mile, a special one-mile walk that crossed the race stage start line to honor the millions of cancer survivors worldwide. Williams, a twelve-year breast cancer survivor, was selected for her tireless efforts as an American Cancer Society volunteer.
During the Breakaway Mile, Williams was joined by approximately 150 community members – cancer survivors, patients, caregivers, and advocates – and Dineli Wickramasinghe, executive director of Research at Amgen, who plays a crucial role in developing innovative medicines to treat cancer and other serious illnesses.
Founded by Amgen in 2005 as a complementary component to its title sponsorship of the Amgen Tour of California, Breakaway from Cancer continues to raise awareness of the important resources available to people impacted by cancer – from prevention to survivorship.
Also part of the today's race activities, Livermore residents and cancer advocates Matt and Dana Croghan fired the official start gun, and Williams had the honor of awarding Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team's Lieuwe Westra with the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider jersey.
For access to resources or to learn more, visit breakawayfromcancer.com.
There are plenty of ways to take in the racing action through May 19, whether in person on the race course, via daily broadcasts on NBC Sports Network and NBC, or by downloading the free Tour Tracker app, which features live race updates, rider background and full race results. More information on all of the ways to watch is available at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
STAGE 8 TOMORROW, PRESENTED BY AMGEN:
Sunday, May 19 – San Francisco to Santa Rosa (80.7 mi/129.9 km)
Start Time: 8:15 a.m. PT
Estimated Finish Time: 11:41 a.m. PT
Satellite Feed Time: 12:50 – 1 p.m. PT
(Coordinates can be found at http://www.amgentourofcalifornia.com/news/media-info.html)
With two hours of live race coverage on NBC beginning at 10 a.m. PT, organizers also expect a record showing of in-person fans in Santa Rosa for the Overall Finish of the 2013 Amgen Tour of California. A stage for the ages, organizers could not have designed a better conclusion for America's Greatest Race. The racers will pass through San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, Hwy 1, Point Reyes National Seashore, Bodega Bay, Occidental, and ride a final two circuits amidst what is guaranteed to an overflowing reception in Santa Rosa, with all eyes watching as hometown team BMC Racing's Tejay van Garderen contends for the overall win.
About the Amgen Tour of California
The largest cycling event in America, the 2013 Amgen Tour of California is a Tour de France-style cycling road race, created and presented by AEG, that challenges the world's top professional cycling teams to compete along a demanding course that stretches across nearly 750 miles of scenic California roadways, highways and coastlines from May 12-19, 2013. For more information about the race, please visit www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
Amgen 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 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, 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 Amgen's pioneering science and vital medicines, visit www.amgen.com. Follow Amgen on www.twitter.com/amgen.
AEG 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 Best Buy Theater Times Square; sports franchises including the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), two Major League Soccer franchises, two hockey franchises operated in Europe, management of privately held shares of the Los Angeles Lakers, the 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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