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 mind.   After the first day I had decided it would be my goal,? said Laurent at the end of today?s stage.


In the Herbalife Sprint competition, Team CSC's J.J. Haedo (ARG) leapfrogged Rabobank's Graeme Brown (AUS) to take the lead with 28 points.


Predictor-Lotto's Matthew Lloyd (AUS) maintained his lead over Rabobank's Robert Gesink (NED) as Union Bank's Best Young Rider by seven seconds.


Colavita/Sutter Home's Alejandro Acton (ARG) was voted as the Adobe Most Aggressive Rider.

Today?s Amgen Breakaway Mile took place at the finish line of the Amgen Tour of California, prior to the exciting conclusion of today?s stage.   The one-mile ride was led by San Luis Obispo-area cancer survivors Dr. Tom Vendegna and Robin O?Leary, who lost her first husband to cancer.   Vendegna rode on a tandem bike paired with Amgen scientist Dr. Dave Lacey who plays a crucial role in developing innovative medicines. O?Leary rode alongside her husband who was a critical support to her during her recovery. Following Vendegna and O'Leary was a peloton comprised of caregivers, family members and health care professionals who supported them.  


?Breakaway from Cancer? is an integral, complementary component of the Amgen Tour of California, and it benefits cancer patients nationwide,? said Amgen Scientist Dr. Dave Lacey. ?We are proud to sponsor this initiative to further empower cancer patients and their families with education and hope to live well with this disease, and it was an honor for me to ride in the ?Breakaway Mile? with Dr. Vendegna and Robin O'Leary today.?


For the latest information on the Breakaway from Cancer initiative and ways to support those living with the illness, visit www.breakawayfromcancer.com.

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