Cervelo TestTeam's Lancaster Wins Stage 2 of 2010 Tour of California
Defending Champion Levi Leipheimer (Team RadioShack) in twelfth place after hometown Stage after second stage.
The second stage of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California brought excitement to the thunderous crowds at the finish in Santa Rosa, home to the BMC Racing and three-time defending champion Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Team RadioShack, who is currently in 12th place overall. After a challenging day of cycling through stormy conditions, Brett Lancaster (AUS) of Cervélo TestTeam took the stage win, as well as the overall lead in the General Classification.
Covering 176.2 kilometer and beginning in the city of Davis, the Stage 2 route included evenly spaced climbs and spectacular views. Proudly boasting no withdrawals after yesterday's crashes, the peloton gave the enthusiastic crowd in Davis something to cheer for as they lined up at the start. The stage began with a series of attacks with little result until mile 12 when the first break formed and included Karl Menzies (AUS) of UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis, Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) of Fly V Australia, Andrew Randell (CAN) of SpiderTech Powered by Planet Energy, Thomas Rabou (NED) of Team Type 1 and Michael Friedman (USA) of Jelly Belly Presented by Kenda. With the break of five riders, which would end up leading the race for the majority of the day, pulling away to create a minute-and-a-half gap over the pack, Menzies took the first sprint in Winters, followed by Rabou and Randell.
After 20 miles of flat roads while building a six-minute gap, the break headed into the first King of the Mountains (KOM) climb of the day, a short, but steep section leading to the Monticello Dam on Highway 128, and Rabou emerged victorious. Another long, flat section along Lake Berryessa, and the official feed zone, took the riders to their second climb up Howell Mountain Rd. (Cat. 2). Seizing the opportunity, Rabou attacked the break as Thomson and Friedman fell behind, but was soon caught by Menzies and Randell and the group of three crested the climb four minutes ahead of the peloton, with Rabou taking the KOM. Shortly after, the original breakaway of five reformed on the fast descent into Napa Valley.
"It didn't get cold at all today. There were many crowds, especially on the climbs, and that made me feel warm inside," said Rabou.
As the riders steadily approached the Oakville Grade (Cat. 3), the third KOM of the day, at 84.1miles/135.4 km and 1.9 miles long, Friedman once again dropped off the pace, leaving four riders to lead the breakaway. With weather conditions working against them, this proved to be a decisive climb for the riders, splitting apart the bunch with challenging circumstances and several crashes. With the end of the stage drawing near, a group of 12 riders, including Leipheimer, pulled away from the pack to form a chase group. After tackling the final KOM of the day, Trinity Grade (Cat. 2), the original break, the chase group and additional riders came together to form a lead group of approximately 25 riders, led by Team RadioShack. In a competition that came down to a very close finish in Santa Rosa, Lancaster took the stage win to the cheers of thousands of fans.
"In the rain, there are times when you just have to close your eyes and go for it. You just have to watch out for the white lines and the cat eyes on the road," said Lancaster. "Honestly, I didn't think I would be in the Amgen Leader Jersey, but today I felt fantastic. It was my special day."
"It wasn't too bad at the start of the race but when it started raining it got quite cold. I got really cold myself and shakey," Lancaster added at the media conference following his win. "When we got to the first steep climb Radio Shack gave it all they had and it was really an effort to make it to the front group then we went to the next climb and I got dropped about a kilometre from the top, but I used my climbing skills and got back on about half way down. Survival skills take over in this weather. In the group at the top a couple of guys tried to go with me and I think they wiped themselves out. I kept up my nutrition, eating all the time, to keep up my energy.
"The last circuit wasn't that bad in the rain, except for those white lines and cateyes in the road that you have. I saw Karl Menzies, a fellow Australian, hit one and slide out on the last corner. At the finish I saw Sagan and was watching him. I knew he was my main competition he's young and very fast. I might have head out a bit too early but I kept my head down and kept accelerating. He did come up quite quick at the end. I don't think I timed it perfectly."
"Me and Heino (Heinrich Haussler) had planned it out, this was one of the stages we had marked but he had bike troubles and nearly crashed in front of me and had to change bikes so maybe it was a blessing in disguise that it happened to him and I had my chance today. I'm not sure how my form was today because I've been up in Boulder four weeks training and I hadn't done any altitude training for about ten years. I was a bit skeptical about doing it but I guess it's paid off," Lancaster concluded.
After a long, hard day of racing, Lancaster claimed the Amgen Race Leader Jersey and the Herbalife Sprint Jersey. The Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey went to Peter Sagan (SVK) of Liquigas. Rabou, whose mother is currently battling cancer, took Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider Jersey and the California Travel & Tourism King of the Mountains (KOM) Jersey.
The top-three general classification leaders in the 2010 Tour of California after today are Lancaster in first, Sagan in second and Menzies in third.
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