HTC Columbia rides strong in Tour of California
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Sunday, May 23, 2010

HTC Columbia rides strong in Tour of California

by Bjorn Haake at 9:17 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour of California
 
Team looks towards overall victory on Sunday

Michael RogersThe HTC Columbia team is putting on a very good performance in the Tour of California. The American team protected team leader and yellow jersey Michael Rogers very well in the mountains towards Big Bear Lake in stage six. Then in yesterday's time trial, three riders of the team were in the top six.

Bert Grabsch held the lead for a long time before being dethroned by teammate Tony Martin. Grabsch was eventually sixth, with Michael Rogers ending the day in second, 22 seconds slower than Martin.

Most importantly for Rogers, he was ahead of his closest GC rivals. "To beat Dave [Zabriskie] and Levi [Leipheimer] is a great ride for me and I'm really happy to be able to take the yellow jersey into the final stage," said Rogers.

Once again, he will have to rely on a strong showing from his HTC mates. "The race is definitely not over. The other teams will throw everything they've got at us [Sunday} but I'm confident that our team can handle that."

Rogers reflected on the strong rides put in by his Columbia teammates the day before, going up to Big Bear. "All the guys were really strong ]Friday[ in the mountain stage, so with Bernie ]Eisel[, ]Bert[ Grabschy, young Tejay ]Van Garderen[ and of course Tony we have a good chance Sunday."

Martin worked extremely hard for his captain on Friday in the mountains and was almost solely responsible that the attacks by RadioShack or Garmin quickly fizzled out.

Still, he had recovered quickly to put in a strong time trial ride, trying to salvage his racing year. "It has not been the best season for me so far because of a bad knee injury," he said. "The spring was not so good. But now I am feeling well and I'm really happy to have had such a strong ride this week. Now I'm looking forward to the next big highlight, the Tour de France."

Young American Tejay van Garderen is also holding up well in the pressure to work for triple time trial World Champion Rogers. He finished 15th in the time trial, 1'42 behind Martin.

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