Boonen wins stage two of 2008 Tour of California
Govenor Arnold Schwarzenegger awards leader jersey to Tyler Farrar.
The second stage of the 2008 Amgen Tour of California saw the emergence of a young star in Tyler Farrar (USA) of Team Slipstream/Chipotle Presented by H30 and the return of an old warrior in Mario Cipollini (ITA) of Team Rock Racing. But the wet and slippery streets of the State Capitol belonged to 2005 World Champion and Belgian superstar Tom Boonen (BEL, QuickStep), who claimed today's stage victory. Stage 2, which took cyclists from Santa Rosa to Sacramento, finished in front of record crowds, taking the total attendance number for the first three days of the race to 425,000, with five days left to go. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was on hand at the official post-race ceremonies to help award the jerseys.
?The Amgen Tour of California is a wonderful experience for California and is great for our tourism,? declared Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger after Stage 2, where he helped present leader jerseys. ?The Amgen Tour of California showcases the state, which has some of the most beautiful places in the world. Thank you to the enthusiastic crowd for being here and being such great fans.?
Having spent most of the nearly 116-mile race chasing one rider, Scott Nydam (USA) of Team BMC, the field roared into Sacramento resigned to settle the matter in a bunch sprint. As the peloton poured around the final corner, Gerald Ciolek (GER) of High Road, wearing the Union Bank of California Best Young Rider Jersey, fired off the front and opened a massive gap. Reigning World Champion Paolo Bettini (ITA) of QuickStep charged after Ciolek with Boonen in tow. When Boonen finally broke loose, he focused on the legendary Cipollini, who came out of a three-year retirement to race for the American Rock Racing team.
?Racing in America seems less stressful; people approach the race differently,? said Boonen. ?I think we?ll be coming back to the Amgen Tour of California for the next couple of years.?
Despite Boonen?s impressive win, it was U.S. riders Farrar and Nydam that took the limelight on today?s stage. Local rider Nydam, who lives in Santa Rosa, Calif., provided a bright spot on a rainy day for the enthusiastic fans who braved the weather to come out and cheer.
Imitating the Stage 1 performance of his teammate Jackson Stewart (USA), Nydam broke away from the field and rode solo after only 10 miles, gaining a lead that grew to as much as 15 minutes. Yet, as the peloton went into the final flats of the stage, he was reeled in and finally caught 15 miles from the finish after a brave 90-mile bid for victory.
Then, the rush began as the cyclists started on the three finishing circuit laps in downtown Sacramento. The roar of spectators, which were ten deep at points along the route, seemed to notch up the speed of the field. With two laps to go, Team CSC, which had riders that won each of the first two days and held the overall lead, suffered a catastrophe when its sprinter J.J. Haedo (ARG), who won Stage 2 in 2007