The DZ Train Powers to Time Trial Victory and Overall Lead as Sagan Succumbs
In perfect sunny conditions with temperatures that reached well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, David "The DZ Train" Zabriskie (USA) of Team Garmin-Barracuda powered to an impressive individual time trial victory.
In perfect sunny conditions with temperatures that reached well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, David "The DZ Train" Zabriskie (USA) of Team Garmin-Barracuda powered to an impressive individual time trial victory on his Cervelo P5 and in the same effort moved himself into the overall race lead in Bakersfield, finishing in first place with an overall time of 35 minutes and 59 seconds.
Completing the out-and-back time trial course 23 seconds slower than him was Germany's Jens Voigt of Team RadioShack-Nissan. Team BMC Racing's American Tejay van Garderen finished 42 seconds behind Zabriskie and moved into second place in the general classification, just 34 seconds behind.
"My house is two hours from here, so I came out in the winter," current U.S. national time trial champion Zabriskie said after being celebrated on the podium.
Zabriskie is hopeful his result here at the 2012 Amgen Tour of California will bode well for his Olympic ambitions to represent the United States at the 2012 Olympic Games in London later this year.
"I rode the course. I videotaped it on the iPad and watched it quite a few times. I knew where I wanted to go hard. I knew when I wanted to go easy - soccer field, petting zoo, make it to the tree line go down easy come up strong. I had a real plan going into this race." With proper planning comes victory.
Zabriskie took over the lead of the eight-day Tour of California race from Peter Sagan of Team Liquigas-Cannondale, who had dominated the race with four consecutive stage victories before he succumbed in the time trial. Sagan, himself said he "didn't feel good from the start," and finished the individual time trial in 52nd place with a time of 39 minutes and 26 seconds.
In what many of the riders called "one of the toughest and longest time trial courses in the history of the Amgen Tour of California," the riders faced a 18.4-mile route, which included several 100-foot rollers. As the riders neared the stage finish in exhausted condition on their time trial bikes, they still had one climb to tackle - China Grade - an eight percent climb to the top and then a hard left. Then, the riders faced a slightly uphill, .44-mile run to the finish.
"I spent a lot of time on the time trial bike in training," Team BMC Racing's van Garderen told Roadcycling.com when asked how he had prepared for today's time trial and added "The course today was a tough one because there were no corners. Pretty much just straight road. Yeah, there were a few ups and downs, but the entire time was in the bars with the exception of the final climb. Just staying in that position for that long is hard on your arms, whereas, if you had a few corners you can kind of sit up and take a bit of a breather. So it was on the power the whole time which was really hard."
When asked to comment on his chances in the general classification, van Garderen told Roadcycling.com "Gesink had a good ride and he's going to be difficult to control. He's obviously come back from his injuries on a good level to put in a performance like that."
Van Garderen said he was pleased with his ride though he felt he started too fast in the first half, which featured a tailwind. "I got too excited catching Chris Horner than gauging my own effort, and paid the price on the way back," van Garderen admitted and added "I rallied on the climbs and started putting out good power. But on the false flat, headwind section I was really starting to suffer."
As expected, today's individual time trial shook up the general classification standings. Zabriskie now leads the race in first place, followed by van Garderen in second and Robert Gesink of Team Rabobank. Previous race leader Sagan now sits in 31st place overall.
When asked if he was going to fight to keep the race leader's jersey Zabriskie immediately responded "Definitely. I'm not going to lie down and give it away. DZ is going to fight until he's lying on the ground almost dying. To win would be the biggest win in my life, my career. It would be amazing, but definitely not an easy thing to come by. It would be a beautiful thing."
Also taking place today was the second annual Amgen Tour of California Women's Time Trial Race. Using the same course as the pro men, the women's event disappointingly featured only ten of the world's best female riders, including American Olympic hopeful Kristin Armstrong, who rides for the Exergy TWENTY12 team, but sadly missing powerful time trial riders such as former World Champion Emma Pooley. It was Armstrong who finished with the best time of 39 minutes and 59 seconds. Alison Powers (USA) of the NOW and Novartis for MS placed second with a time of 41 minutes and 23 seconds, and Jade Wilcoxson (USA) of Optum Pro Cycling - powered by Kelly Benefit Strategies took third with a time of 41 minutes and 58 seconds.
"This was one of the hardest courses and conditions I've done in my 10-year career," Kristin Armstrong said after crossing the finish line "The heat was really hard and real heavy. The road was recently repaved and black as black so the heat that came off of that was really hard. It was a true time trial course. A true test of fitness, and I think the strongest person won."
Armstrong, however, seemed satisfied with the race featuring just ten contestants. "Having AEG and Amgen bring women in for the time trial, I can't even thank them enough. It's so awesome to put women on the same stage as the men. It's really nice to mix the men and women. I do a lot of World Cups in Europe and just the hype. I really appreciate what everyone has done and all the sponsors that have backed it."
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