Olympic and World Champion Paolo Bettini Wins Stage Four of Amgen Tour of California

News & Results

02/23/2007| 0 comments
by Thomas Valentinsen

Olympic and World Champion Paolo Bettini Wins Stage Four of Amgen Tour of California

First-ever Olympic and World Champion win on

U.S.
soil; Levi Leipheimer retains leader jersey for fourth consecutive day.

Olympic and World Champion Paolo Bettini (ITA), riding for Quick Step-Innergetic, made cycling history when he edged out T-Mobile Team's Gerald Ciolek (GER) in a dramatic photo finish to win Stage 4 of the 2007 Amgen Tour of California.   For the first time ever, a reigning Olympic and World Champion won a race held on U.S. soil.

 

"Day by day, I am discovering California on this course and it is beautiful," said Bettini.   "Here in California the courses are good for me.   They are difficult, but not too difficult... The fans here are incredible, just incredible."

 

Levi Leipheimer of the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team finished the longest stage of the eight-day race, at 132.6 miles (213.4km), in 36th place, which was enough for the
Santa Rosa , Calif., resident to retain the overall leader jersey.  

 

"Today was the postcard of the Amgen Tour of
California
.  
Riding down Highway 1 through Big Sur? pretty amazing, very beautiful," said Leipheimer following the stage.

 

Under clear skies and roaring crowds who packed the finish in downtown
San Luis Obispo
, Bettini outsprinted T-Mobile's Gerald Ciolek (GER) and Team CSC's Juan Jose "J.J." Haedo (ARG), who finished second and third respectively, to take his first stage win in
America
.

 

The ride from Seaside to
San Luis Obispo
was punctuated by two brief rain showers and some of the most striking scenery yet as the cyclists rode hard down the Highway 1 coastline.  
The average speed was 25.8 mph (41.5 kph), with the leaders completing the course in 5:05:47.

 

Leipheimer, the overall leader since the Prologue in San Francisco , was upbeat about keeping the Amgen Leader Jersey until the finish in
Long Beach
.  

 

?I?m pretty confident.   I feel good.   I feel like I'm the best rider in the race,? said Leipheimer at a post-race press conference.

 

After a very active opening few miles today in which Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light's Alejandro Acton (ARG) launched repeated attacks, three riders broke away from the peloton after 18 miles , including Acton, T-Mobile's Aaron Olsen (USA) and Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis' Kirk O?Bee (USA).

 

Credit Agricole's Christophe Laurent (FRA) soon bridged the gap to join the breakaway and was followed two miles later by Navigators Insurance Cycling Team's Hilton Clarke (AUS), San Luis Obispo hometown favorite Lucas Euser of Team Slipstream powered by Chipotle and Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team's Sean Sullivan (AUS).

 

This group of seven stayed clear of the peloton until about ten miles from the finish.   Fulfilling his declaration to claim the California Travel and Tourism King of the Mountains (KOM) competition after an 80-mile breakaway on Stage 2, Laurent pulled on the ?sunshine jersey? today as the race?s most consistent climber after winning two of the three KOMs today.

 

?The King of the Mountains Jersey was not in the front my mind before the race, but it is always in the back of my

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