Robert Gesink Climbs to Victory on Mt Baldy
After an exciting battle to the 6,445-foot summit atop Mt. Baldy in California, Team Rabobank's Robert Gesink emerged victorious and in the process also took over the overall race lead from Team Garmin-Barracuda's Dave Zabriskie.
- all with Team RadioShack-Nissan; Timothy Duggan of Team Liquigas-Cannondale; Maxime Bouet and Mikael Cherel of AG2R La Mondiale; Marc De Maar and Bradley White of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team; Atapuma; Alexandre Geniez of Team Argos-Shimano; Lucas Euser of Team Spidertech - powered by C10; Christopher Baldwin of Bissell Pro Cycling; and Brown.
Points for the first KOM competition of the day went, in order, to Bennett, Voigt, Horner and White, and as the riders descended the twisty and technical road, the gap was at one minute, 45 seconds. Team Rabobank, Team Garmin-Barracuda and Omega Pharma-QuickStep were taking turns at the front the group, and the gap held at two minutes. Shortly thereafter, Euser and White dropped from the break, leaving the initial eight riders.
Horner and Atapuma began working alone at the front of the break, while the rest continued to chase or dropped back to the main group. With a three minute, 40 second lead, they continued on as Team BMC Racing worked powerfully at the front the peloton for teammate van Garderen. Atapuma and Horner were the first riders of the second KOM of the day, followed by Duggan and De Maar. With 20 kilometers of the stage left Atapuma and Horner's lead held steady at two minutes, 25 seconds.
The two leaders continued to work together as they headed toward the base of Mt. Baldy one minute, 25 seconds ahead of the nearest chasers. Team BMC Racing continued to push the pace at the front of the peloton. As Atapuma attacked and Horner responded, Gesink moved out in front of the peloton, attempting to catch the race leaders alone. He was followed by Danielson and van Garderen. Gesink and Danielson rode ahead of van Garderen, with Gesink just 35 seconds behind Atapuma.
Moving swiftly up the hill, Gesink dropped Danielson, then caught and passed Horner, but Horner didn't give up easily, hanging onto Gensink's wheel. Meanwhile, Arevalo began moving up, passing van Garderen and charging upwards. With less than one kilometer to go, Gesink passed Atapuma. Atapuma answered the attack, but was no match for Gesink, who crossed the line first.
"It was a very hard day," an exhausted Atapuma commented during the post-stage press conference and added "I got in the break and I was looking at [Chris] Horner when I attacked so I could stay in his wake and contest for a stage win until the last climb. Then I moved away from Horner and couldn't get the stage win. But, for our team to get second and third in a tough stage, and in such an important race, is a very good result anyway."
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