February 22/06 10:18 am - Tour of California: Stage 3 Report and Photos
Posted by Editoress on 02/22/06
Tour of California
Reports made possible by the support of MAXXIS tires
The Amgen Tour of California has a new race leader - Floyd Landis (Phonak) is the third American star to take over the race lead, after a convincing win in the crucial stage three time trial. Landis finished the 27 kilometre stage 26 and 35 seconds ahead of Team CSC riders David Zabriskie and Bobby Julich, nearly a minute in front of yesterday's leader George Hincapie (Discovery) and a whopping1:16 in front of pre-race favourite Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner).
The undulating course took the riders over two climbs and one tricky and treacherous descent before a 10 kilometre slog on the flat to the finish, straight into a headwind.
Zabriskie was the fastest rider at the first split, covering 10 kilometres in 13:50. Julich was 12 seconds slower and Landis a further four seconds in arrears. The gap jumped significantly after that, with Leipheimer 24 seconds behind Zabriskie and Hincapie over a minute back.
Landis acknowledged that he was slower to start, but said that his best time trials go that way. "My technique in the time trial is to start slower, because to my way of thinking it is better to save some for the end. Other times, when I've gone out hard at the start, I've had nothing left for the end of the race."
Landis pointed to the final 10 kilometre stretch as being the hardest, "that last 10 K was difficult mentally. It was straight, just going and going ... the headwind made it more difficult, and all you could do was focus on how bad your legs and arms were feeling."
Landis referred to pain in his arms because of the unusual 'praying mantis' position he has begun using for time trials. "I changed my bars from last year. Wind tunnel testing a couple of weeks ago confirmed that the position is good."
Given the lack of serious climbs to split the field up, it appears that it will be very difficult for anyone to dislodge Landis from the top of the leader board. While the next three stages all have climbs, none are long enough (or frequent enough) to afford CSC and Discovery an opportunity to put Landis in difficulty. However, the new racer leader isn't taking anything for granted:
"I expect CSC and Discovery to attack hard and get into breaks, We will have to control the race the best we can, but it will be more difficult because they each have several guys that we have to watch."
And Leipheimer - is he out of contention? "Unlike CSC and Discovery, Gerolsteiner put all their eggs in one basket, but I'm not counting Levi out - he could still come back from a minute-ten."
- Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval) missed his start because it was discovered by officials that his bike was below the minimum weight requirement (6.8 Kilos). The mechanics had to frantically glue weights on his bike while the clock was ticking away. The team had neglected to check the weight of the bike before showing up at the weigh in. Simoni is now 5:50 down in general classification (24th) after being only24 seconds back yesterday...
- Prior to the start of the stage, San Jose Sharks hockey player Scott Thornton, an avid cycling fan, was allowed to ride the circuit. Kitted out in Health Net gear, he rode the entire circuit (his time was not available). He passed Viatcheslav Ekimov (Discovery) on the first climb - Ekimov was slowly inspecting the course. Thornton exclaimed to an accompanying photographer "Wait 'til I tell people I passed Ekimov on the climb!"
- Tomorrow's stage is the longest of the race at 210.7 kilometres. Starting in Monterey, the race heads south along the cost, through famous Big Sur before finishing in San Luis Obispo. There are two Category 4 climbs and one Category3, plus two intermediate sprints. As Floyd Landis said, the hardest obstacle is likely to be the wind.