Hincapie takes second Amgen Tour of California stage win

News & Results

02/25/2006| 0 comments
by Thomas Valentinsen
Ekimov (Discovery Channel), Jens Voigt (Team CSC), Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) and Nick Reistad (Jelly Belly) working hard in the breakaway. Photo copyright Roadcycling.com.
Ekimov (Discovery Channel), Jens Voigt (Team CSC), Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) and Nick Reistad (Jelly Belly) working hard in the breakaway. Photo copyright Roadcycling.com.

Hincapie takes second Amgen Tour of California stage win

Landis (Phonak-iShares) leads overall competition following aggressive day of racing.

Following another day of crowds in the thousands and with the Amgen Tour of California on pace to set records in attendance for any single sporting event in California, as well as for any cycling event in the United States with more than 830,000 attendees to date, George Hincapie (USA) of the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team powered down the street to Santa Barbara and his second stage victory.


Thousands of spectators lined the course as the riders blazed out of San Luis Obispo at an average speed of almost 30 mph to begin the 105.3-mile course to Santa Barbara, and a bevy of attacks kept speeds high throughout the day. Two large breaks of ten riders were able to stay off the front of the field during the stage.



Shortly after the second large group was reabsorbed on the open and flat roads into Orcutt, four riders were able to slide off the front of the field to gain a significant advantage as the course turned toward hilly terrain in Santa Barbara County. The four-man group included German Jens Voigt (GER) of Team CSC, Sebastian Lang (GER) of Gerolsteiner, ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games time trial medalist Viatcheslav Ekimov (RUS) from Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, and American Nick Reistad (USA) from California-based Team Jelly Belly.


With Ekimov 5'20" down to Landis in the overall, Phonak allowed the four a maximum advantage of 3'20" and held the gap steady at approximately 3' to the Category 1 climb of San Marcos Pass Road. At 3.1 miles to the summit, the lead had shrunk to 1'33".


Halfway up the climb, Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Gerolsteiner and Ricardo Ricco (ITA) of Saunier Duval-Prodir joined the front group and established a 22" lead on the field at the summit of the KOM, with Leipheimer leading over the top of the climb. 40 riders regrouped on the descent. With a similar finishing dynamic to Stage Two, George Hincapie showed that he is one of the fastest men out of a select group by winning the sprint and taking his second stage in the Amgen Tour of California.


?We knew all the roads, and we knew the last climb really well. The team was really strong today. We've had a great week and have a lot of fun racing here,? said Hincapie.


After his performance in today?s stage, Hincapie reclaimed the lead in the Clif Bar Sprint Competition and will wear the Clif Bar Sprint Jersey during Stage Six. The points awarded to Leipheimer for being the first rider over the San Marcos Pass puts him in the California Travel and Tourism King of the Mountain Jersey, while Tom Peterson (USA) of Team TIAA-CREF remains in the Union Bank Best Young Rider Jersey. For his efforts in the day?s longest breakaway, 23-year-old Reistad earned the Adobe Most Aggressive Jersey.


?It?s clear that the race is taking on a momentum of its own; the crowd support on the road today was beyond anything we?ve seen yet,? said Shawn Hunter, president of AEG Sports, the presenters of the Amgen Tour of California. ?From the start in San Luis Obispo and on through all of the towns along the course, people were out in the thousands to support the best cyclists in the world race to Santa Barbara.?



Commenting on his strategy in today?s stage, third place finisher Chris Horner of Davitamon ? Lotto told Roadcycling.com that ?The first strategy was simple. Just get over the climb in the first group.  After that it was Discovery doing all the work all the way to the finish.  Simple strategy was to stay on George?s (Hincapie) wheel.  His wheel was in perfect position and then the Gerolsteiner guy came by at about 300 or 400 meters.  Just enough time to where either I was going to have to let him in and try to sprint two wheels from behind to try to catch George, which is next to impossible, or sit there and fight with him and then lose for sure.  So I let him in.  I think I had good speed for the finish, just coming from too far back.?


When asked if he was still going for the overall win, Horner told Roadcycling.com that ?Well, we have Freddy for the next stages.  The other two stages (seem to be) built for him.  We were setting up Freddy the first day and he had a flat at one (kilometer) to go ? what are you going to do?   Second stage we climbed the last corner a little bit wrong and we wanted him to come in the last corner first, which he did, but the distance to the last corner ended up being more like 250 so if you look, he lost that stage too.  We?ll get him a stage.  We?ll help him get to the line; we?ll get him the stage win.?


Stage winner George Hincapie of the Discovery team told our Roadcycling.com reporter that ?I felt really good on that last climb.  We just wanted to get as many guys as we could over, and we knew we couldn?t do much damage because there was a headwind.  We were fortunate we got six guys over, and the strategy at that point was not to let the real sprinters come back because the group was small.  (We kept a) high pace so they wouldn?t come back, and once we knew they were gone we just kept a high tempo so nobody would attack.  And the team just took me right to the line without much effort.  It was a perfect day.?



Race leader Floyd Landis of the Phonak Hearing Systems ? iShares team commented on today?s stage and the breakaways. ?We actually didn?t mind if [the breakaway] went to the finish.  It was fine with us.  Ekimov was the first guy, but as long as they didn?t get five minutes we were happy with that.  I figured some things would go down on the last climb so as long as the guys were ok until there and we saved a few guys then everything was good.  At the top we were suffering, but everybody was suffering.? 


We also asked former race leader Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) if one of his goals today was to drop Bernhard (Kohl) and take the leader jersey?


?No I wasn?t even thinking of the jersey at all.  I just wanted to attack and try to break the race open.  I knew this climb wasn?t very hard, but I had to give it a go anyway.  There were not many opportunities left in the race.  I was trying to be aggressive and shake up the classification.  When I got to the top (of the climb) there was only one other guy with me, and I say, hey, I want to take the points so that was the only time I really thought about it ? right there at the top.?



Stage Six tomorrow will bring the riders 89.5 miles from Santa Barbara to Thousand Oaks on their final day of distance racing, followed by a circuit day finale in Redondo Beach on Sunday. Tomorrow?s shorter stage with a hilly profile features four KOM climbs and finishes with three laps of a three-mile circuit in Thousand Oaks that will cover the stages? final ten miles and finish at Amgen?s corporate campus.

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