Juan Jose Haedo wins stage one of the 2008 Tour of California
Celebrated local cyclist Levi Leipheimer welcomed home to Santa Rosa by record crowds.
broke up into three, with 80 riders in the first group, 11 in the second and 33 in the third.
The tight Santa Rosa finishing circuits have gained a reputation in the short history of the Amgen Tour of California for producing thrilling action in front of a vast, roaring crowd. This year was no exception as the riders sped around the closing laps. QuickStep lined up its two champions, Tom Boonen (BEL) and Paolo Bettini (ITA), for the sprint, as did the formidable Team CSC and Team Slipstream/Chipotle.
George Hincapie (USA) of Team High Road also found himself in a good position for the sprint. Going around the final corner, with only a few hundred yards remaining, Hincapie touched wheels with Tom Boonen and crashed heavily, but made it to the finish in 74th place, despite being grazed from head to toe. Team High Road reported that he had no broken bones and is expected to start tomorrow.
?So far, the race has been fantastic; exceeding expectations,? said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports, presenter of the race. ?We?ve been doing this for three years now and it keeps getting better. I think we?re getting to the point where we are one of the most important races on the calendar. We want to continue to grow bigger. We want to be one of the races that people plan their calendars around.?
Showing an impressive performance on Stage 1, the California Travel & Tourism Commission King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey and the Tachyon Most Aggressive Jersey were both claimed by Jackson Stewart (USA) of Team BMC. And the Herbalife Sprint Jersey went to Haedo (ARG) of Team CSC. Gerald Ciolek (GER) of Team High Road took the Union Bank of California Best Young Rider Jersey. Team CSC, winner of the 2006 and 2007 overall team classification, leads the overall team classification.
The top-three general classification leaders after today are Fabian Cancellara (SUI) of Team CSC, Team Slipstream/Chipotle?s Tyler Farrar (USA) in second and Team High Road?s Bradley Wiggins (GBR) in third.
Defending champion, Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Team Astana rode into a hometown welcome from the cheering crowds lining the roads in Santa Rosa. Fourth overall after today?s stage, Leipheimer heads into Stage 2 with high hopes for his team?s performance over the rest of the week.
?Compared to last year, the crowds just get bigger and bigger. Every year, I?m astonished at how many people are here,? said Santa Rosa resident Leipheimer. ?Cycling has really grown around here and I think that is due in large part to the Amgen Tour of California. It feels great to have people cheer me on and to race on the roads that I know every inch of and have trained on for the past twelve years; it?s really special.?
As a new component to the 2008 Amgen Tour of California professional road cycling race, Stage 1 featured a category Pro 1,2 Women?s Criterium. Using portions of the Stage 1 men?s finishing circuit in Santa Rosa, the Women?s Criterium was enthusiastically welcomed by the