Tour of California: Zabriskie nails stage three and takes overall lead
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tour of California: Zabriskie nails stage three and takes overall lead

by Steve Jones at 9:12 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour of California
 
Too close for comfort

Dave ZabriskieGarmin-Tranisitions rider Dave Zabriskie won the third stage of the Tour of California today out of a three-man escape, barely edging out HTC-Columbia’s Michael Rogers in the final dash for the line.  Last year’s winner Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) finished just behind in third.

Zabriskie attacked his companions 500 meters from the line, and nearly lost out to the hard-charging Australian with an early, almost premature, victory celebration.  This was the American’s first UCI individual road race win since his triumph in stage 11 of the 2004 Vuelta a España.  Zabriskie now leads the overall by 4 seconds over Rogers, and holds a further 2 second advantage on Leipheimer.

Five riders set off

Today's 182.3 kilometer stage had four climbs on tap, with the category two Bonny Doon cresting just over 20 kilometers from the finish.  An early break of 5 riders got away after nearly 50 kilometers of racing.  The move included Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell), Will Routley (Jelly Belly), Davide Frattini (Team Type 1), Ryan Anderson (Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Eric Boily (SpiderTech).

The break worked well together and put more than four and a half minutes into the peloton by the time they reached the 110 kilometer mark.  Leipheimer's RadioShack decided they had enough slack, and began to chip away at their lead.  With 50 kilometers to race the quintet's lead had erroded to 1 minute and 45 seconds.

Four kilometers later the break's advantage was less than a minute, so Routley decided to try to make it to the slopes of the Bonny Doon climb alone.  Behind the four worked together to chase, but the peloton continued to gain ground as they were left to dangle off the front and eventually brought into the fold.

RadioShack takes control

RadioShack rode aggressively up the Bonny Doon climb, with Chris Horner driving an infernal pace as the peloton exploded behind.  The front group was initially Horner, his RadioShack teammates Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer, HTC-Columbia's Michael Rogers, Garmin-Transitions' Dave Zabriskie and UnitedHealthCare’s Rory Sutherland.  Behind Saxo Bank's Andy Schleck and Jens Voigt had lost contact with the leaders.

Leipheimer put in an attack that drew Rogers and then Zabriskie, while his RadioShack teammates stayed behind and covered moves from the swelling chase group.  Sutherland just missed out on the acceleration, since he was unable to make it around the RadioShack pair.  The trio looked comfortable up the climb and, with two strong teammates behind, the second and third place from last year's overall left the defending champion to make the pace.

Behind, the chase group continued to increase in numbers with Voigt, Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo TestTeam), best young rider Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo) with two teammates, Garmin-Transitions riders Tom Danielson and Ryder Hesjedal, Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthCare), Steve Morabito (BMC Racing) and several others.   Haussler was riding hard on the front to pull back the leaders, and showed that he’s well beyond the knee injury that plagued him during the spring Classics.  Sagan got tangled in the German’s real wheel and went down, but quickly got up and was immediately back in the 25-man group.  Liquigas-Doimo tried to pull the leaders back, while the rest of the group was just hanging on as they approached the top.  Hesjedal tried away from the chase group to join the leaders, but couldn’t get clear as they began the descent.

Time trialists prevail

Ahead the three began to work together to maintain their advantage over the group, and had a gap of just over a minute at the bottom of the descent.  Fly V Australia began to lend a hand on the run into the finishing town of Santa Cruz, making it Liquigas, Cervelo and UnitedHealthCare who were eating away at the threesome’s advantage.

With 7 kilometers remaining the gap to the front three was down to 20 seconds, with neither side giving up the fight.  With world-class time trialists sharing the work on the front the tenuous gap remained, and it was Zabriskie who made his move with 500 meters remaining to barely hold off Rogers at the line. 

2010 Tour of California stage three results:
1. Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions)
2. Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) s.t.
3. Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) s.t.
4. Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo) @ 17s
5. Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthCare) s.t.

Overall after stage three:
1. Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions)
2. Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) @ 4s
3. Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) @ 6s
4. Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo) @ 21s
5. Marc de Marr (UnitedHealthCare) @ 24s

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