Tour of California - 2.1
USA, February 19-26, 2006
Results & report
Stage 1 - February 20: Sausalito to Santa Rosa, 129.1km
Commentary by Kristy Scrymgeour, with additional reporting from Mark Zalewski
Complete live report
Good morning and welcome to Cyclingnews'
live coverage of the Tour of California. Yesterday we saw Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner)
take out the prologue from four of his compatriots. Levi now wears the yellow
jersey and leads by almost five seconds from Bobby Julich (CSC). He was very
happy to be in this position he said yesterday as California is his home state
and he even helped design the course. Today the race will finish in his home
town of Santa Rosa.
The race starts just over the Golden Gate bridge
from Downtown San Francisco in the cute little town of Sausalito and heads north
through Marin County to Santa Rosa. It covers 131km (81.5miles) through beautiful
National Park areas starting with the Muir Woods famous for its Redwoods. It
then heads up to Pt Reyes and along the coast further until it turns right and
heads directly north and inland to Valley Ford and on to Santa Rosa where riders
will complete three laps of a technical finishing circuit of 5km each.
The course is undulating today. There
is a climb right at the beginning getting out of the Bay and then another climb
at about 85km. Its quite cool but the sun is out which is keeping things mild.
The race starts on a pier by a restaurant and there is a large crowd gathering
to see the start of the race. Its a nice vibe and the riders are spread around
the place, some signing autographs.
Only a few minutes from the start
now. We've just heard the National Anthem and the riders are all lined up ready
And we're off. Riders roll out nice
and easily to start their 130km ride.
They have a couple of neutral laps
for the spectators before they hit the real race start.
Lots of spectators line the streets
of what is very much a tourist town with nice little shops, gallery's and restaurants
along the street. You can see the Golden Gate bridge from here. Its a very scenic
The field is rolling along in neutral.
Not a cloud in the sky - a perfect day considering a few days ago there was
snow and hail around here.
There are a few climbs today but nothing
too bad and most of the climbs are at the beginning of the race. Its quite likely
that today's race will be a sprinters day. The teams will probably try to keep
it together for the end.
Tomorrow's stage is the tough one.
Quite steep climbing and most say the race will be decided over the next two
days with the climbs and the Time Trial on Wednesday. As Levi said after the
stage yesterday he was hoping to have a home advantage and keep tomorrow's climb
a secret, but most the the riders have had a chance to have a look at it. He
was quite excited that despite the fact that its only February, riders are taking
this race quite seriously and actually checking out the stages ahead of time.
Most the the riders started today
with arm warmers on and most are shedding that clothing now. Its a perfect day
for a bike race.
The race proper has just started,
so we are at 0km with 131 remaining.
The riders are heading under Highway
101 now and will soon start to climb up from sea level. If you've ever visited
this part of the world. The Muir Woods is just gorgeous. The redwoods are spectacular
and you can hike through and come out on the cliffs looking over the Pacific.
The race has now turned onto Highway 1, know around the world to be one of the
more scenic drives, especially south of San Francisco.
The pace is pretty fast already.
We caught up with a few of the riders
before the stage, one of whom was Mick Rogers (T-Mobile). He said that he has
just had a bit of a rest period leading up to this race after starting early
in Australia. The prologue yesterday wasn't his "cup of tea being so short with
a climb." But he said he's still going to give it a go on Wednesday for the
TT and see how he goes.
Gerolsteiner lead the way as they
start climbing. They'll be trying to set a nice steady pace to keep things safe
for the yellow jersey today. Levi commented that despite the fact CSC and Discovery
have so many people in the top ten after yesterdays prologue, he is confident
that his team is strong enough to support him through this tour.
Someone has pointed out that the leaders
jersey here is called the golden jersey not the yellow jersey so I'll use that
from now on to be more correct.
Cyclingnews also caught up with Tim
Johnson (Health Net) this morning. "This is pretty early for me," he said, so
he's not really expecting a lot out of himself. He added that he's enjoying
his new team. "Its strange going from being one of the older guys on the team
with Jittery Joe's last year, to being a young guy on the team again amongst
all the older guys.
11:46 PST 13km/118.1km to go
The riders have
no gone over the first two climbs. Both were windy and steep and about a mile
and a half each. Gerolsteiner have been setting the pace. Its gorgeous along
this road. You can see the ocean and the rugged cliffline from here. Riders
might be able to appreciate the views early in the race before it gets fast
later in the race.
11:47 PST 15.2km/115.9km to go
They are climbing
again now. There are fans all along the climbs watching the race. The field
is fairly strung out as they descend and climb along the windy roads.
Another reader pointed out that its
appropriate that the leaders jersey be called the golden jersey as California
is the "Golden State."
Other jerseys of the tour are the
red King of the Mountain (KOM) jersey. Yesterday they timed the fastest rider
from the bottom to the top of the climb to award that jersey and it was bernhard
Kohl (T-Mobile) who now wears that.
There was obviously no sprint in the
prologue but the green sprint jersey is awarded to the second place getter in
the stage so Bobby Julich is wearing that. The silver/grey young riders jersey
was awarded to Zach Grabowski (Colavita/Sutter Homes). He was excited about
his ride yesterday. He commented after the stage that he had a lot of tips from
Mark McCormack who had ridden before he had about how to take the corners etc.
So far the pace has been steady. Its
not slow as Gerolsteiner are setting a nice pace but so far there have been
no attacks. We've had one crash and that was Justin England from the new Toyota
United Pro Cycling Team but he's back with the bunch now.
The race passes by the sleepy little
fishing village of Bodega Bay today, which was made famous years ago due to
a Alfred Hitchcock film "The Birds" for those film buffs out there.
Great areas for training up here.
One reader just wrote in that Greg Lemond used to do a lot of his winter training
up around the Santa Rosa area.
Another rider we caught up with before
the start today is Chris Horner, riding for Davitamon Lotto this year. He also
said that its a bit early for him at this time of year. "My form isn't here
right now," he said. "I'm not expecting much for this week. I might surprise
myself and have a go later in the week." He added that he is also happy with
his new team and that the team camp went very well.
Coming up soon is the only sprint
of the day at Point Reyes Station. So far the only splits in the field have
been over the climbs where maybe 20 guys would have a slight lead over the top
mainly because of the windy roads, but gerolsteiner have had their whole team
setting pace up front with Levi tucked in behind them. He looks good and fresh.
One disappointed rider yesterday was
Nathan O'Neill (Health Net) who looked to be setting a good time until he crashed
with 150m to go in the prologue. He said after that he was trying to change
down to the small ring near the end and the chain must have come off. He still
finished with a good time, but it was a big disappointment for the team. Nathan
is Australian National Time Trial Champion again this year for the seventh time.
Two riders are off the front right
now for the first break of the day.
Hard to tell who is in the break right
now. It looks like a Kodakgallery.com-Sierra Nevada rider and a Credit Agricole
Its reported that Jackson Stewart
(Kodakgallery.com-Sierra Nevada) won the sprint out of a two man break. Its
fairly flat for a while now. Riders will go through the feed zone fairly soon
and refuel. Its here that they enter Sonoma Country and head towards Valley
Gerolsteiner are not panicking about
the break. Just continuing to set tempo on the front of the group. Highway 1
traves along Tomales Bay at this point and you can see across the Bay to the
Tomales Bay State Park which juts out as peninsula at the northern tip.
One reader has written is to tell
us about the delicacies of this area. He says that Pt. Reyes Station, Tomales,
Freestone and Occidental have some great bakeries. You'll find great oysters
and sandwiches in Marshall (a little hamlet 10 miles north of Pt. Reyes) and
more great food in Occidental and in Graton. Some of the spectators from out
of town might like to know this. Very importantly there is come good beer in
Santa Rosa at the 3rd St brew pub.
12:59 PST 55km/76.1km to go
Jackson Stewart is
with and Jean Marc Marino (Credit agricole) in the break and they have 1'20"
on the field at this point. It will be hard for them to keep that lead over
the next climb but so far they are working well together.
The lead is increasing and the latest
update is three minutes.
The field is still just cruising along
with Gerolsteiner still sitting on the front. They have to keep the time split
under control but they have no reason to rush to bring this back. Its actually
good for them to leave a break out there like this and gradually bring it back
towards the business end of the race.
Levi has moved up closer to the front
and his guys have picked up the pace a little now.
Both riders in the break have their
team cars up with them as they are allowed to do when the break is over a minute.
The crowd at the finish line in Santa
Rosa is huge. No doubt a lot of Levi fans in this part of the world as it is
his home town. It will be quite an honour for him to ride into town wearing
the leaders jersey.
This break away at least a good thing
for Jackson Stewart who picked up the sprint points and will likely wear the
sprint jersey tomorrow. IF the break stays away, Jean Marc Marino will wear
the leaders jersey being ahead of Stewart after the prologue. This is unlikely
however as the sprinters will want to take advantage of this being a sprinters
It looks like Jackson Stewart has
been having a hard time trying to hold onto the wheel of Jean Marc Marino but
he is still there at this point.
We've just had an email from friends
and family of Jason McCartney who wants to send out a congratulations to Jason
on his new baby Ginger Marie McCartney born on December 8, 2005.
The time gap is now 3'22".
13:28 PST 75.5km/55.6km to go
Riders have been
through the feed zone now and are on a plateau. The two breakaway riders still
over over three minutes. Gerolsteiner have been on the front the whole way,
but now the Credit Agricole guys are on the front for a bit. Jackson looks to
be doing well and not struggling on the wheel. Both riders have been pulling
through pretty evenly.
The terrain has been undulating all
day and the climbs have been pretty steep and windy. They have about another
five km until the next climb.
13:31 PST 82km/49.1km to go
They are now in the
town of Valley Ford.
According to reports from behind the
field there have been quite a few punctures today so a lot of action for the
team cars and neutral spares.
The riders are now turning into the
Bodega Highway which is a pretty major highway. There are large groups of spectators
along the road at various points. They'll get to the bottom of the climb soon.
The climb is pretty wide open and not really steep initially.
Credit Agricole were just at the front
for a small amount of time when the bunch slowed down a little. Now Gerolsteiner
is back on the front with all their men. It will be important for them to set
a nice tempo up this climb to try bring the time back a little.
They are on the climb now. The field
is spread across the road so not going too fast just yet.
13:46 PST 91km/40.1km to go
The climb starts
to get steep half way up.
Its not a real long climb but it will
hurt the breakaway riders after being off the front all this time. If they can
get over this climb in the lead they have about 15km of flat road before they
hit the finishing circuits.
Phonak are helping a little in the
chase. The gap is starting to come down now and sits at 2'50". Some gaps are
forming in the field.
Vladmir Gusev and Jason McCartney
are slightly off the front of the peloton now. The climb is steep here and splitting
things up a bit.
The gap is still dropping gradually
and is currently at 2'20". Marino and Jackson are still working well together.
Marino is only 22 years old. He won
four races in France last year. Jackson is only three years older and also had
an good victory last yeat at his home town race, Cat's Hill Classic.
13:59 PST 100km/31.1km to go
The field has regathered
on the descent but the gap to the two breakaway riders still stands although
is somewhat smaller. It is now at 1'20".
The descent was pretty fast with the
bunch going down at about 70km/h (45m/h). The road has flattened out now as
they head for the finishing circuits.
Gusev (Discovery) is up the front
with the Gerolsteiner guys. It will be a fast stretch into town and the sprinters
get set up for the finishing circuits.
There will be three laps of 5km each
around the cool town of Santa Rosa. The circuit is technical and has 12 corners
each lap. They'll be making left hand turns.
14:05 PST 106km/25.1km to go
25km to go now and
as they go towards town the Levi is welcomed by his home crowd holding signs
that say "welcome home Levi".
Other signs say "Levi for Gov."
The break has been caught. It was a good day out for Jackson and Marino and
Marino will take home the "most aggressive rider" jersey.
The race in entering Santa Rosa now.
Lots and lots of people here to welcome
the race. It is a public holiday in the US. Presidents Day.
14:09 PST 108km/23.1km to go
The circuits start
in another 6km. The pace is quite fast now.
Of course when I said all the turns
were left handers that wasn't quite correct. With 12 turns per lap they have
left and right turns on the way, but the circuit is anticlockwise and the final
turn to the finish line will be a left one.
Discovery is on the front now as they
hit the circuit for the first time.
14:17 PST 117km/14.1km to go
We have three laps
remaining in the race. The field is strung out in front of a huge crowd.
Americans are good at this type of
riding as they do so many criteriums in this country. The teams are fighting
for control on the front. Gerolsteiner is up there, as is Phonak.
Three Gerolsteiner riders hit the
front. Its single file.
They have really picked up the speed.
Levi is on the front. His main concern will be to stay safe through the circuits
and the best place to do that is on the front.
Health Net have a wheel change at
the back. They have some good sprinters so will want to be getting their act
together in the next two laps.
A Health Net rider hits the front,
probably to try and slow it down a bit to let his teammate get back on. But
its single file again now.
Gerolsteiner back on the front. There's
a very straight / flat aproach to the finish with 500m to go. The road dips
down under the highway and slingshots the pack the 200m to go line. The peloton
will explode into sunshine from the shadows, the road funnels down slightly
from 3 to 2 lanes for the final sprint.
14:23 PST 121km/10.1km to go
Hitting the finish
line now for two laps to go.
Mike Sayers (Health Net) on front
amongst Phonak riders. It was Gord Fraser who flatted.
Gerolsteiner are back on the front.
A lot of shuffling of position as usual here. Teams are trying to get their
sprinters lined up for the finish and Gerolsteiner are trying to keep Levi safe.
The first lap took 6'22". Phonak are
very present at the front working for Hunter.
It has slowed down a little now and
the field is spread across the road around the back of the course.
But not for long. Its single file
around the turns now. Phonak leading the way.
The turns are technical and with so
many of them positioning is very important.
Gerolsteiner pull through to the front
again and Davitamon Lotto move up closer to the front.
Davitamon Lotto now have four riders
on the front working for Freddy Rodriguez.
14:29 PST 126km/5.1km to go
One lap to go now.
The crowd is going wild!
Nathan O'Neill (Health Net) hits the
front. Health Net are pushing their way up.
But Lotto hold control. Six of them
at the front now.
Its single file only a few kilomters
Lots of moving around in the field.
Davitamon Lotto have the lead out figured out. Robert Hunter is near the front
14:33 PST 130km/1.1km to go
One kilometer to
Its very fast, strung out around the
corners and very loud here!
Lotto are still leading
Lotto are still leading. Kodak are
They are nearing the final corner,
for the left hand turn.
haedo has good position too. He looks
Juan José Haedo (Toyota-United Pro)
has managed to come around to take the win!!!
The very first win for this new team.
A very talented sprinter with a lot
A T-Mobile rider took second and CSC
third. Hard to tell who it was.
It was Oaf Pollack (T-Mobile) and
Stuart O'Grady (CSC) taking second and third place.
Thanks for reading
today. We'll be back tomorrow at 11am for stage two from Martinez to San Jose.
1 Juan José Haedo (Toyota-United Pro)
2 Olaf Pollack (T-Mobile)
3 Stuart O'Grady (CSC)
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