Posted by Editor on 02/27/06
Tour of California
Reports made possible by the support of MAXXIS tires
The Tour of California ended today with a final circuit race through Redondo Beach and Olaf Pollack (T Mobile) joined JJ Haedo (Toyota-United) and George Hincapie (Discovery) as a double stage winner. His victory, combined with other podium appearances, was enough to give him the Sprint Jersey. In the overall standings, Floyd Landis (Phonak) finished safely in the field to become the first ever Tour of California champion.
The 12.3 kilometre circuit ran south along side the Pacific Ocean before retracing its steps north. With nine corners and one short climb, it was set up for a breakaway, and one took off almost immediately, initiated by Glen Chadwick (Navigators). Chadwick was joined by Aaron Olsen (Saunier Duval), Davide Frattini (Colavita) and Scott Zwizanski (Kodakgallery.com-Sierra Nevada).
The break was assisted by a crash which occurred halfway through the first lap. Eight riders went down, and the back third was temporarily held up. Among the riders that went down were Robbie Hunter (Phonak), Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner), Phil Zajicek (Navigators) and Tom Peterson (TIAA-CREF). Peterson managed to rejoin the race, after a bike change and changing shoes with a team mate (he broke a cleat when he went down), which enabled him to hold onto the Young Riders Jersey. He was pretty banged up, and took medical attention at the back of the peloton once he rejoined.
"There was a hole in the road", explained Peterson "and I hit it and went down. So did a bunch of others, unfortunately."
When the crash happened, the field slowed and the gap opened quickly, and was up to 6:45 by the end of the second lap. This made Chadwick the race leader on the road. The gap hit a maximum of 7:50 with the race just under half over, and then started to drop. With three laps left it was 3:20, a lap later 2:10 and by the start of the last lap it was 45 seconds.
Davitamon-Lotto started the chase, and then Phonak came to the front, joined by CSC and Discovery. The leaders sat up and waited for the peloton. Fabian Wegmann and David Kopp (both Gerolsteiner) made a brief counterattack, but they were brought back by the sprinters.
Pollack was concerned for safety coming into the finish: "It was the same situation as yesterday - CSC went one lap too early. I was a little bit nervous in the last five kilometres because in the downhill piece there were too many riders trying to come up to the front and too many corners."
"The last one kilometre was too dangerous when it went from a wide highway to a narrow road. I lost the back wheel of (Michael) Rogers, but two other team mates took me up - Andre Greipel and Andre Korff. At 500 metres I went to Greipel's wheel and I saw he was strong today, and could maybe win, but Haedo was coming up so I had to go at 300- 350 metres."
Greipel hung on for third, while Pollack out threw Haedo at the line to take his second straight win and the Sprint Jersey.
- Pollack is coming back from two years of medical problems with his legs. "I had problems with my legs starting two years ago and had to have an operation on each leg. This the first time that I am feeling 100%."
- the official estimates for the entire week are 1.3 million spectators.
- Riders and teams had lots of praise for the race, and American riders said that the Europeans were particularly impressed. "(Fabian) Cancellara said that he likes it better than the Tour (de France) - greta hotels and no transfers" revealed George Hincapie.
- Floyd Landis heads back to Europe tomorrow to take part in Paris-Nice. So does Booby Julich and David Zabriskie. Levi Leipheimer says that he will stay in California for a bout a month of training.
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