Sutherland finishes second in hardest ever Tour of California stage
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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sutherland finishes second in hardest ever Tour of California stage

by Bjorn Haake at 10:46 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of California
Huge result for US-based squad

Rory SutherlandWith more than 12,000 feet of climbing, stage six of the Tour of California was the hardest in the race's five-year history. United Healthcare rider Rory Sutherland took advantage of his sprinting skills to finish second in a 21-man front group. Only youngster Pete Sagan was faster in the flat run-in to Big bear Lake.

The last part being flat was a late consolation on an otherwise mountainous stage. "It was a hard day," Sutherland said. "We were always on the pedals. I talked to some of the Euro guys and they said it was harder than stages in the European races. It took 100 km just to get to the first real descent."

In the tough climb, the peloton lost rider after rider. "It was definitely a day of attrition," Sutherland said. "There were almost no attacks until late. You just tried to hold wheels for as long as possible."

Sutherland profited from two things to save energy in the end. For one, Garmin and RadioShack marked each other, which never let the front group explode. HTC Columbia also wanted to keep things together. And secondly, Sutherland's teammate Marc de Maar attacked with 25 km to go and held a half-minute lead for a while.

De Maar hadn't planned to go solo. "I was hoping one or two riders would come with me because I thought there would be a better chance to stay away to the end," the Dutchman said. "[Peter] Stetina went with me at first but he couldn't stay on my wheel. So I was solo for 10 km until the other Garmin rider came up to me. But I think he came a bit too late."

That rider was Matt Wilson, who came across a gap that had extended to nearly a minute, putting de Maar in the virtual race lead.

"I was good all day," de Maar added. "We were watching all the moves to make sure we didn't miss anything. When I went, it was perfect because I was up front and Rory was in the back and could sit in for the sprint if I got caught."

The United Healthcare riders had a tactic that worked almost to perfection. "Marc picked a good spot to go," Sutherland said. "The big teams were all watching each other and it allowed him to get a gap. And when you have a teammate up the road, you want to be ready to get a good result to reward all the work he is doing up front.

"When Marc was caught, I started positioning myself for the sprint," he said. "I found Sagan's wheel because he showed yesterday that he was probably the quickest guy there."

Sutherland's second place gave him a six-second time bonus, which saw him jump to fifth overall, just 0'29 behind Rogers. De Maar is one place and three seconds behind his teammate.

"Of course we would have liked the win, but it was a good result for the team," Sutherland said. "Now we have two guys in the top 10 and close to the lead."

Team Director Mike Tamayo was quite impressed with the team. "The guys showed again today that they are at the Pro Tour level in strength," Tamayo said. "Rory and Marc put themselves in position for the win. This result was a great achievement for the team."



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