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.
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. Gesink outclimbed two Colombia-Coldeportes riders on his way up the final climb of the day.
25-year-old Gesink, who suffered a serious four-place fracture in his leg in September last year, took the leader's jersey by making up 39 seconds while adding another 46 to his lead going into the final stage in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Zabriskie, who has finished second overall in the 2006, 2007 and 2010 editions of the Amgen Tour of California, slipped into second overall, while his American teammate Tom Danielson climbed from 7th to 3rd overall after today's stage. Team BMC Racing's American Tejay van Garderen entered the day in second place, but lost two places and is out of podium range after Saturday's stage.
"I am very happy to take the stage victory, and of course am very happy with the effort the team put in," Gesink, who finished 6th overall in the 2010 Tour de France while only a 23-year-old, commented and added "We started riding very early because we saw [Chris] Horner in the first group. A guy who does an attack like that has to be a really big rider to make a race as he did today. It was an incredible chase today; everyone was suffering. On the last climb I decided to go with five kilometers left. I think I looked back and the remaining group was small; it worked out perfectly. In the end, I was happy to take the stage victory."
Gesink overtook Jhon Atapuma of Team Colombia-Coldeportes with a little under 1 kilometer to the finish of the stage and crossed the finish line first after a stage that took the cyclists 78.3 miles from Ontario to the top of Mt. Baldy. Atapuma's teammate and fellow Colombian, Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo, finished third.
Defending Amgen Tour of California champion American Chris Horner of Team RadioShack-Nissan rode alone with Atapuma for more than 20 miles during Saturday's race, but faded in the final three miles to finish in sixth place on the day. Danielson finished in fifth place, moving him to third place overall.
What the stage lacked in distance, it more than made up for in vertical climbs, featuring two brutal climbs at Glendora Ridge Road and Glendora Mountain Road and 15 switchbacks before the finish.
As with yesterday, the attacks started early after the official start of the race. Initially, it was German Jens Voigt of Team RadioShack-Nissan and Dries Devenyns of Omega Pharma-QuickStep that took off in front of a break of about 10 riders, but Devenyns dropped back and Voigt was joined by Michael Matthews of Team Rabobank and Bontrager-Livestrong's Nathan Brown.
About eight kilometers from the first KOM of the day, there was a big group off the front with a one minute, 10 second advantage on the peloton. The group consisted of Voigt, Horner, George Bennett, Gregory Rast