Michael Rogers Wins 2010 Tour of California
Team Garmin-Transitions' Ryder Hesjedal wins a very exciting and animated stage 8.
After eight challenging and epic days of cycling that covered more than 800 miles of scenic California roads, and a thrilling fight to the finish at the conclusion of today's final stage, Michael Rogers (USA) of HTC-Columbia was crowned champion of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California.
With a week-long total time of 33 hours, 8 minutes and 30 seconds, Rogers took the highly coveted title of race champion in front of enormous cheering crowds in Thousand Oaks, home to title sponsor Amgen, besting his third place finish in the 2009 race. In an eight-day battle against the best field ever assembled to compete in the United States, which included Tour de France winners, Olympic medalists and World Champions, Ryder Hesjedal of Team Garmin-Transitions claimed the Stage 8 win.
"For our team the only race that's more important than the Amgen Tour of California is the Tour de France," a proud Michael Rogers said after the finish of this year's Tour of California. "This is a huge result for us. We can really walk away from the Amgen Tour of California with smiles on our faces."
"It was a really tough race," Rogers continued and added "I knew the last stage of this race wasn't going to be a walk in the park, but I didn't realize it would be that tough. It was obvious early on that Garmin and Radio Shack were going to attack on the fourth lap so we were ready for it. They really stuck it to us and I'm really happy that we could hold on. It was a really tough course.
David Zabriskie (USA) of Team Garmin-Transitions finished in second place overall for the second consecutive year at 9 seconds behind Rogers, and three-time champion Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Team RadioShack finished third at 25 seconds behind.
"The Amgen Tour of California finished on a spectacular high today," Leipheimer said. "The stage was phenomenal, the crowds were Tour de France-esque and you could really feel the excitement. I don't think we could ask for anything more for the last day of the Amgen Tour of California. In my opinion the Amgen Tour of California has grown exponentially quicker and bigger than any race in the history of cycling."
The final stage of the 2010 edition of America's largest cycling race consisted of four 21-mile circuits that took the riders through the communities of Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village and Agoura Hills, and included one challenging King of the Mountains (KOM) climb at about six miles in - Mulholland Hwy, or better known by local cyclists as the "Rock Store Climb" (Cat. 3/4 - 1,824 ft.).
Long regarded as one of the most scenic climbs in southern California, Mulholland Highway featured steep climbs and numerous switchbacks, which made it the perfect place for spectators, and they turned out in droves. A challenging finish to a difficult race, Stage 8 tested the cyclists until the final stretch to the finish line.
Beginning with a neutral start and a break that was soon caught, the peloton approached the first pass at the climb, which was swept by the Garmin-Transitions team with Hesjedal first, Tom Danielson (USA) second and Zabriskie third. As a new Los Angeles resident, Zabriskie utilizes the Rock Store climb as part of his standard training rides. Lined with fans, some of which had camped out to secure their spot to watch the cyclists compete in the final day of the race, "Rock Store" made the final stage of the race an extremely challenging course. As the riders passed the Malibu Family Winery, they began a twisting and technical descent on Westlake Blvd. headed back into Thousand Oaks.
Split at the end of the first lap, there were 28 riders in the front with 15 chasing behind, but as they neared the second pass at "Rock Store" the group joined together to form a pack about 45 riders strong. The next big break occurred on the climb and included Rabou, who took the KOM, Carlos Barredo (ESP) of QuickStep, Yaroslav Popovych (UKR) of Team RadioShack, Sebastian Langeveld (NED) of Rabobank, George Hincapie (USA) of BMC Racing Team, Oscar Pujol (ESP) of Cervélo TestTeam, Jeremy Vennell (NZL) of Team BISSELL and Bradley White (USA) of Team UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis. With each circuit taking approximately 40 minutes, the break held for the next lap, and Rabou once again took the KOM heading into the final circuit of the race.
After some unsuccessful attempts to pull away from the lead group, Hincapie, Barredo and Pujol were able to get off the front and create a gap of about a minute. At the same time, pulling away from the chase group were Leipheimer, Rogers, Horner and Zabriskie, who were soon joined by Hesjedal. The remaining riders from the original break began to fall back to the main group, while Horner and Hesjedal went forward to join the break. Langeveld, the Rabobank rider who was in the original break, fell back to give race leader Rogers a bit of shelter as the attacks came and went. In an all out sprint to the finish, Hesjedal took the win to the cheers of enthusiastic fans lining the streets of Thousand Oaks.
"Once I made it up to the remainder of the break, I knew I had a shot to win, so I focused and the team was awesome," said Hesjedal. "To win on the last day against a field like this is a big highlight for me."
"Today I think was the best stage for me, short and explosive with hard climbs," Cervelo TestTeam's Oscar Pujol said after the stage. "From the beginning the teams wanted to make it a hard race and that was better for me. Then at the final I was tired and made it to the finish line with just a few riders. But in the last downhill two riders got to us and in the sprint I was not strong enough. I tried it and I am happy with today."
"This stage was brutal," US Champion George Hincapie of Team BMC Racing told Roadcycling.com and added "I knew the race was going to be hard. I did everything right. I just didn't have the legs today."
Today's stage brought a close to the competition for the Amgen Tour of California jerseys. The Amgen Race Leader Jersey was awarded to Michael Rogers. Peter Sagan (SVK) of Liquigas-Doimo retained the Herbalife Sprint Jersey and the Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey. Thomas Rabou (NED) of Team Type 1 held onto the climbing lead to take the California Travel & Tourism King of the Mountains (KOM) Jersey. Popovych claimed Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider Jersey. With a celebratory champagne fight on the awards stage, Garmin-Transitions claimed the overall team classification.
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