Tour of California - 2.HC
USA, February 17-24, 2008
Results & report
Stage 6 - February 23: Santa Barbara - Santa Clarita, 105 mi / 169 km
Complete live report
Live commentary by Sue George, with reporting from Mark Zalewski and Kirsten
Join us for more live coverage of the Tour of California on stage six from
Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita over 105.4 mi / 169.6 km. Tune in as Levi Leipheimer
tries to defend his yellow jersey the day after winning the individual time
trial. Stage six coverage starts February 23 at 11:00 local US Pacific Standard
time (PST); 14:00 USA Eastern Standard time (EST); 20:00 Central European time
(CET); 06:00 Australian Eastern Daylight Time (February 24).
Good morning and welcome to complete
live coverage of Stage 6 of the Tour of California. The weather here in the
Santa Barbara start city is cooler than in previous years - in the 50s (degrees
Fahrenheit) today. It is absolutely gorgeous - really sunny & blue skies and
it's a little windy, but we're guessing after some of the other stages this
week, the riders will probably happily take some wind over rain. The stage will
start in about 15 minutes.
We have six minutes to go until the
start, which will be neutral fro the first 3.1 miles (5 km).
Team CSC manager Bjarne Riis has been
out talking to the public near the start. He's drawing a crowd as everyone seems
to want to meet him. Lots of fans and spectators are out on this Saturday afternoon.
Levi Leipheimer (Astana), who won
yesterday's time trial stage, will be out to defend his yellow jersey today.
Three minutes until the start...
Today's stage has a lot of climbs
and they aren't like Mt. Hamilton or Sierra Grade which were 20 to 40 minute
climbs. Today has short climbs, but they are very steep. They are 15-20 minutes
long which can really shatter the group. From a rider's point of view, there
is a good opportunity for both breakaways and the race to split and become a
race of attrition. It's not impossible though for it to come down to a field
Tom Boonen and Kevin Seeldraeyers
(Quick Step) did not sign in although we're guessing they are are still planning
to start. The racers are off now for the neutral.
The start is on the waterfront in
Santa Barbara. There are huge palm trees lining the road out of the town, which
seems to be rather well off. The wind is gusting up a bit and there's a headwind
Today's stage is the same as the other
years. This is the one where George Hincapie crashed and broke his wrist last
year. He probably has less than fond memories as that crash ruined his Spring
We're heading out past Montecito Country
Club. At the intersection of California Rt 192 and Sycamore Canyon Road, the
race will officially start. The first KOM will come just 16.3 miles (26.3 km)
in. It will be followed by another one at 19.1 miles (30.7 km), so we can probably
expect some early action.
0 km or the race official start is
at the top of this climb in another kilometer. People by the side of the road
are holding a giant Swiss flag.
Perhaps they are cheering on Fabian
Cancellara (Team CSC)?
The stage has begun!
Astana is at the front - no doubt
looking out for Leipheimer. Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) is the first
Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom)
is being chased by Rory Sutherland (Health Net p/b Maxxis) and Aaron Barry Tuckerman
Now they are caught. Rock Racing counters.
They are flat out at the start today - going 35mph (56 kph). Ben Day ((Toyota
- United Pro Cycling Team) doesn't make it very far - he abandons.
The three riders have a slight gap.
The sickness that has been going around the peloton has really been taking a
toll. It's a 24 hour fever with diarrhea. The guys who can get through it for
one stage and sit in while not doing any work are usually ok for the next day,
but all the teams have been losing riders.
Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly), Rubens
Bertogliati (Saunier Duval-Scott), and
Danny Pate (Slipstream Chipotle
p/b H30) are off the front with Danilo Wyss (BMC Racing Team), Dimitri Champion
(Bouygues Telecom) and Rory Sutherland (Health Net p/b Maxxis) chasing.
Speaking of Health Net, Mike Tamayo,
the team's director, said his whole team is sick. He had two riders ill in time
trial yesterday (Philip Zajicek and Roman Kilun), and one of them also had a
flat tire, so they were both eliminated after not making the time cut. Health
Net has Tim Johnson, John Murphy, Rory Sutherland and Frank Pipp - just four
riders left in the race.
11:26 PST 9.6km/160km to go
There are seven riders
together now in a break off the front with 30 seconds.
Bryce Mead (Jelly Belly) abandons,
and Bobby Julich (Team CSC) gets a flat.
There's a crash!
Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly) crashes
and he abandons. They are taking him to the hospital.
11:30 PST 12.2km/157.4km to go
Our lead group
of seven has 20 seconds. The break includes: Christopher Horner (Astana), Mauricio
Alberto Ardila Cano (Rabobank), Gerald Ciolek (High Road),
(Health Net p/b Maxxis), Angel Gomez Gomez (Saunier Duval-Scott),
Mccartney (Team CSC), Danny Pate (Slipstream Chipotle p/b H30),
Lange (Jelly Belly)
We're near the Carpinteria city limits
and Angel Gomez Gomez (Saunier Duval-Scott) attacks the break but is caught
back by the break. The break is going 25 mph (40kph) and looking around a bit.
Bobby Julich (Team CSC) is back in
the peloton after his flat.
Dan Bowman is another rider who had
a flat, but is back in the pack. Having a flat early on is really tough - the
race is going fast and it's hard to catch back up - especially weaving your
way through the caravan to regain the rear of the peloton.
Everyone is back together - the break
is caught, but counterattacks are happening.
The pack is spread out across the
road and Astana is back at the front. If you look at the GC, the race is not
won yet by Levi Leipheimer. Other teams can still move up. For example, Slipstream
has riders in second and third with David Millar 0.49 and Christian Vande Velde
at 1.08. They will be looking for a solid performance today - perhaps getting
into breaks to get some of the time bonuses up for grabs today.
Today, the riders will contest four
KOMs and two sprints. The sprints come with 3, 2 and 1 second time bonuses each
and 10, 6 and 4 seconds will be awarded at the finish. Given the close margins
in the GC, if either of the top three Slipstream riders could get in a break,
they could make up some important seconds on Leipheimer.
11:44 PST 21.7km/147.9km to go
The riders are
all together. The first KOM is coming up soon. It's a category four climb and
it tops out at 943 feet (287m).
Andrea Tonti (Quick Step), Dimitri
Champion (Bouygues Telecom), Doug Ollerenshaw (Rock Racing) have attacked and
are off the front with a slight gap.
The field is chasing hard - the gap
is at about 20 seconds. There are four riders trying to bridge up to our three
in the break.
The break is caught and counterattacks
resume. Riders are still trying to get off the front for the upcoming KOM, but
so far no breaks are sticking.
The riders are working hard. It's
not strung out single file, but the peloton is long and only a few riders wide
at any point. The pressure is on, and some must really be feeling it after racing
all week. A small group of riders has a minor gap.
There are probably a dozen riders
now in a small group off the front. Others from the main peloton are trying
to bridge up to what could become a crucial separation if they get enough of
Jurgen Vandewalle (Quick Step) attacked
the group of about 16 and is off the front on is own. Vandewalle is dangerous
on the KOM - he's sitting in third in the KOM.
The small group that was off the front
is reabsorbed by the peloton and Vandewalle is now off the front on his own
going for KOM points.
Caleb Manion (Toyota - United) has
We have three more abandoning riders:
Vincent Jerome (Bouygues Telecom), Antonio Cruz (BMC Racing Team), Richard England
(Bissell). Jurgen Vandewalle (Quick Step) continues to sit off the front by
Vandewalle is caught and they are
all together. Our first KOM results are
1 Jurgen Vandewalle (Quick Step)
2 Alexandre Moos (BMC Racing Team)
3 Jeff Louder (BMC Racing Team)
4 Robert Gesink (Rabobank)
Slipstream's Steven Cozza attacks.
Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole)
bridged up to Steven Cozza (Slipstream Chipotle p/b H30) and they have 10 seconds.
There are big crowds ahead on the next KOM and you can see some snow up there.
They pull it up to 20 seconds, but
now the gap has dropped back to 12 seconds. KOM #2 is another category 4 topping
out at 1,110 feet (338m).
There are 200m to go to the KOM and
a group of five are chasing.
They are over the KOM - we'll get
you results for this second one as soon as we can. Our blimp is having a little
trouble seeing what's going on with all these mountains and twisty roads.
12:05 PST 40km/129.6km to go
Christophe Le Mevel
(Credit Agricole), Steven Cozza (Slipstream Chipotle p/b H30),
Kroon (Team CSC), Rory Sutherland (Health Net p/b Maxxis), and Alexander Candelario
(Kelly Benefit Strategies / Medifast) are all off the front now together - a
break of 5. [In fact, Candelario was not in the break, the rider was David Canada
Gracia (Saunier Duval-Scott) - ed.]
Alexandre Pichot (Bouygues Telecom)
and our KOM leader Scott Nydam (BMC Racing Team) are chasing.
Christopher Horner (Astana) appears
to have a flat and is getting mechanical assistance.
Alexandre Pichot (Bouygues Telecom)
has caught up to the lead group of five making it a lead group of six.
Scott Nydam (BMC Racing Team) and
Doug Ollerenshaw (Rock Racing) are chasing. at 1.30.
We've now got our results for the
1 Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole)
2 Steven Cozza
(Slipstream Chipotle p/b H30)
3 Scott Nydam (BMC Racing Team)
Karsten Kroon (Team CSC)
The latest situation, to summarize,
is that we have six men off the front, with two men chasing. The field is further
back still and appears to not be chasing with any seriousness. After a quick
look at the GC, there is no one that is too much of a threat to Levi Leipheimer,
so his team is letting them go for now. Astana is at the front of the pack,
sending the message of being in control.
Scott Nydam (BMC Racing Team) will
be motivated to catch up to the leaders as it will position him better to catch
some more KOM points and perhaps defend his lead. Today is a big day for Nydam
to defend his lead. The BMC rider had shaved his head a few days ago in solidarity
with his dad's cancer treatment, but he admitted that the other day, in some
atrocious weather, he really noticed a lot of body heat leaving out of his head.
12:21 PST 41km/128.6km to go
Nydam told Mark
Zalewksi before the race that he was able to save enough energy yesterday in
the time trial, so he didn't have to dig too deep and is ready for whatever
happens today. Probably his biggest KOM challenger is now Jurgen Vandewalle
(Quick Step), who picked up some points in the early KOMs today.
Quick Step is having a good day so
far. In typical Belgian weather (think wind and rain) Stijn Devolder won the
individual time trial of Volta ao Algarve earlier today from Castro Marin to
Tavira. The Belgian champion, with his first win with Quick Step colors, showed
his technical abilities on the 29 kilometers TT. Sylvain Chavanel (Team Cofidis)
and Hector Guerra (Liberty Seguros) were second and third after him.
Leaders have 5km to sprint - our first
one for today coming up in Ojai. Our two chasers have separated. Scott Nydam
(BMC Racing Team) is 20 seconds behind his former companion.
Alexander Candelario (Kelly Benefit
Strategies / Medifast) is one of the riders we at first thought was in the break
today. His team director Jonas Carney told Kirsten Robbins this morning that
his team has been decimated by the illness going around. He only has five guys
left in the race, and two of them are sick today, leaving him just three healthy
riders. He pointed to Candelario, who has been climbing and sprinting well throughout
the Tour so far as one rider who could go off the front, and in fact, has. He
got top 10 in one stage so far. Carney is hoping that Candelario will be able
to get over the climb with whatever bunch there is.
Scott Nydam (BMC Racing Team) is getting
caught by the peloton now, but Doug Ollerenshaw (Rock Racing) is still out there
on his own - chasing the break.
12:32 PST 50.2km/119.4km to go
The leaders did
not contest the sprint since none of them are contenders in the sprint points
competition. They instead are funneling all their energy toward maintaining
their break - looking at the long haul for today. They rolled it through the
sprint line and the results were
1 David Canada Gracia (Saunier Duval-Scott)
2 Rory Sutherland (Health Net p/b Maxxis)
3 Steven Cozza (Slipstream Chipotle
One kilometer to go to the sprint
for the peloton. The riders are passing a rug sale alongside the road - unfortunately,
there is no time to shop.
Both of our chasers, Scott Nydam (BMC
Racing Team) and Doug Ollerenshaw (Rock Racing), have been caught by the peloton,
so we are down to just six riders off the front, followed by the main peloton.
12:38 PST 50km/119.6km to go
It seems to be getting
colder out here - we're watching the riders put on some more layers. The field
is seeing the 5km to go sign for the next and third KOM coming up. This one
is on California Route 150. It's a category 3, topping out at 1,255 feet (383
The break has increased its lead to
5.30. The roads of today's stage are part of a local club's long ride- which
turns off just before Ojai and goes around Lake Casitas and back via Ventura.
Lance Armstrong used to come out this
way several times during the winter to train on these roads. Sometimes, he'd
join in the local club ride. We've gone 1km to go to the KOM, which is followed
by still more climbing. The peloton is passing orange tree groves.
12:42 PST 56.5km/113.1km to go
Top two in the
KOM are Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole) and Rory Sutherland (Health Net
They will continue to climb for another
few miles before a big, long, fast descent, maybe eight miles or so.
Rory Sutherland is one of the riders
in the break. He's been keeping us posted every day on the happenings of the
Tour of California with his diary. Check
out his entries.
We have a correction to make - our
transmissions were a bit garbled in the mountains. Its not Alexander Candelario
(Kelly Benefit Strategies / Medifast) in the break, but David Canada Gracia
12:52 PST 59.5km/110.1km to go
Astana is still
in control on the front of the main peloton. The time gap is now up to 6.00.
We may see the time gap continue to
go up as the peloton is taking a nature break and also taking some time to refuel.
They're between one third and half-way through today's stage, so they will need
plenty more calories to get through the rest of the stage.
Our six break riders are rotating
through steadily - they are sharing the load and frequently taking turns at
the front. A few of them are taking drinks as they rotate through the rear of
13:01 PST 68km/101.6km to go
We've crossed the
Santa Paula creek and are going by Thomas Aquinas College. We saw some kids
out standing on the bed of a pickup truck - jumping up and down and cheering
on the break.
Next up is another sprint, our second
and final one of today. It comes in Santa Paula and again offers time bonuses
to the top three riders across the line.
The lead group has stretched the lead
to 6.15 - gaining another 15 seconds in the last few miles. The riders are taking
turns in a tuck position in the front of the break as they see the 5km to go
to the sprint sign.
We finally have results from the third
KOM. They are
1 Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole)
2 Rory Sutherland
(Health Net p/b Maxxis)
3 Alexandre Pichot (Bouygues Telecom)
Steven Cozza (Slipstream Chipotle p/b H30)
5 Karsten Kroon (Team CSC)
13:09 PST 75.9km/93.7km to go
The gap has grown
to 6.30 and the leaders see 1km to go to the sprint. We wonder if they'll contest
David Canada Gracia (Saunier Duval-Scott)
is setting the pace. They are riding through it - no sprint - as they work smoothly
together to extend their lead.
There won't be any time bonuses left
for the main peloton when they come through the sprint. Only the top three places
scored extra seconds. We pass another Swiss flag being held on the side of the
road. Two fire trucks are holding a giant American flag over the road - the
riders pass under.
It's feed zone time for our leaders.
The peloton is just coasting along.
They're making their ride look effortless at the moment. Official results for
the sprint we just passed are
1 Rory Sutherland (Health Net p/b Maxxis)
2 Alexandre Pichot (Bouygues Telecom)
3 Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole)
The peloton now rolls through the
feed zone. Next, the riders will approach the final KOM of the day, the famous
Balcom Canyon climb. It's a category four, topping out at 1,027 feet (313m).
They still have plenty more climbing after this KOM, but none of it will count
toward the official KOM classification. The time gap has grown to 7.10.
We passed a set of train tracks, with
a train waiting. Apparently, officials held it up for the race to pass by -
like they did last year.
The Balcom Canyon climb is pretty
epic. The past few years, the crowds have been huge along it. It's all rock
- no trees and as its name implies, it feels like climbing up through a canyon
- with steep rock walls. There is this kilometer long section over which the
crowds can see the whole way up and over the gap. The leaders are getting 5km
to go to the KOM line.
Kim Kirchen (High Road) abandons.
The advantage of the leaders drops a bit, by about ten seconds, to 7.00. They
still have a long way to go to sustain their lead.
Given the current gap, Rory Sutherland
(Health Net p/b Maxxis) is actually the virtual leader on the road. We think
he must be feeling pretty good today since he stuck out his tongue at Mark Zalewski
earlier in the day around the first sprint.
We'll have to take that back - I guess
we can't do math and watch racing at the same time! Sutherland was 18.24 back
in the GC after yesterday's TT, so he can't be leading the race with a 7 minute
Most of the break riders are standing
out the saddling and climbing smoothly. Astana is still on the front of the
peloton, controlling the pace.
The break riders pass a man waving
a giant American flag - careful not catch that flag in the spokes!
Someone must have told the crowds
at Balcom Canyon to dress up. We're passing what appears to be the pope and
the grim reaper - running alongside the race.
The road is lined with crowds along
both sides - tons of people have come out.
13:35 PST 90km/79.6km to go
The break is descending
after cresting Balcom Canyon.
The field is still climbing up - spread
pretty wide across the road - they're passing the pope. One of the riders borrowed
the grim reaper scythe and rode with it for a few meters.
13:40 PST 92.5km/77.1km to go
Our day's final
KOM results (#4) are
1 David Canada Gracia (Saunier Duval-Scott)
2 Rory Sutherland (Health Net p/b Maxxis)
3 Alexandre Pichot (Bouygues
4 Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole).
The main peloton crests over Balcom
Canyon and begins their descent. They've got 50 miles remaining in the race,
much of which will be uphill.
When the riders reach Santa Clarita,
our finishing city for stage 6, they will have to negotiate three finishing
circuits. Between now and the finish, there are no more KOMs or sprints.
Some of the riders have come off the
back of the pack over the climb. Among them is Mario Cipollini. Two of his Rock
Racing team-mates have dropped back to help him catch back up - they are negotiating
their way through the caravan.
Thanks to the controversy before the
Tour of California began, Rock Racing could not start three of its riders, so
it's been doing the whole race with just five members. However, that may not
be such a disadvantage now since so many teams have lost many riders to illness.
The sun we mentioned at the start
is completely gone and the skies are gray and heavy - including at the finish.
Rain is in the forecast - we'll have to see if the riders can make it to the
end of the stage before the precipitation gets going again. Looks like Tom Boonen
has a wheel problem.
But now the Quick Step rider is back
in the field.
One rider we haven't heard much from
today is Dominique Rollin (Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team), the rider who
is leading the sprint competition. Robert Gesink (Rabobank) is the rider at
the top of the Best Young rider classification today. Gesink was in a two man
break earlier this week with Leipheimer, and he won a stage.
13:53 PST 102.3km/67.3km to go
Team High Road
has decided to take an interest in helping the peloton chase so it's no longer
all Astana at the front. The pack is pretty well strung out in a line. With
the new commitment, the gap is down to 6.15.
Cipollini is hanging onto his team
car - looks like the mechanic is servicing his brakes. We have reports that
Scott Tietzel (Jelly Belly) is abandoning.
Two Rabobank riders join in the chase
effort - the gap is down to about 6.00. High Road and Astana riders are still
up there putting in their turns.
The break riders are all on their
hoods - riding steadily, but nothing like the guys in the pack, who are all
in the drops looking and riding intensely. They appear to be on a mission now
to reel in the break. The sprinters' teams will be motivated to make the catch
so they can go for the stage win.
Scott Zwizanski (Bissell) just stopped
and gave Benjamin Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) his bike. Team Bissell is helping
them back up as the peloton keeps driving - the gap is down to 5.45.
The break is on a high speed descent
with sweeping turns. They are using the entire road to their advantage.
Karsten Kroon (Team CSC) is leading
the break. Looks like Steven Cozza (Slipstream Chipotle p/b H30) is starting
to struggle a bit. He's been gapped off just a bit and is back there rubbing
his leg and hip - he may be dealing with some cramps.
14:07 PST 111km/58.6km to go
and High Road riders are at the front of the peloton still driving. The gap
has dropped to 5.30.
Tomorrow's final stage will be different
than in previous years. It is not a circuit race for the first time, but will
instead be a a point to point race with a tough mountain in the middle.
14:12 PST 115.8km/53.8km to go
Everyone in the
break is still taking their turn rotating through, even Cozza who looked to
be hurting. Gap is down to 5.15, with the peloton strung out in their chase
The riders have a little more than
20 miles until they reach the circuits in Santa Clarita. David Canada Gracia
(Saunier Duval-Scott) is the highest placed rider in the break. We'll see if
he and the others in the break can hold off the charging pack. It's quite a
bit of uphill for much of the way to Santa Clarita.
The break riders are executing an
almost perfect echelon although we can see their heads are drooping somewhat
from the effort. As the pack continues to reel them in, their chances of holding
on until the finish are diminishing.
High Road, Quick Step and Rabobank
are all motivated to chase - they have no riders in the break and will want
to set up their sprinters so they have a shot at the stage winner. Leipheimer
is safely tucked in the main group with his Astana team-mates - he's a little
harder to recognize with his white, red and blue long sleeve jacket covering
up his yellow leader's jersey.
Leipheimer had dropped back to the
team car briefly to chat with DS Ekimov. Now he's working his way back up through
the pack to his safety spot near the front of the peloton.
14:26 PST 124km/45.6km to go
The riders are passing
orange groves - we see a bunch of oranges on the ground - hmmm, it's been a
long day in the car following the race, maybe we should stop and grab some for
The gap is down to 4.30. We want to
know what you think...will the break hold the lead and if so who is your favorite
pick? What about if it comes down to a field sprint? Send mail to email@example.com.
Karsten Kroon (Team CSC) gapped his
break mates slightly - he seems a little stronger than some of the others. The
six do not look as smooth as before although they are still together.
When the riders reach Santa Clarita,
they'll face a tough circuit finish with some ups and downs. There is a hard
right hand turn just 300m or so before the finish, which is somewhat uphill.
They'll see three to go after they enter the circuit.
Last year, this stage featured a short
section of gravel roads, but that wasn't a problem this year. That section of
road has since been paved over.
14:35 PST 139km/30.6km to go
Leipheimer has his
game face on in the peloton. He looks to be pedalling smoothly - nicely tucked
in behind his team-mates. The gap is below four minutes - now at 3.50.
There is a crash.
Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval-Scott)
went down but is back rolling again.
Rabobank, Quick Step and High Road
are at the head of the main pack which is all strung out. We're at 3.10 - gap
is dropping steadily.
We think an Astana rider may have
crashed. We're trying to get confirmation.
We have confirmation - it's Vladimir
Gusev (Astana) as the rider who crashed.
Poor Gusev - after working so hard
to protect Leipheimer - may be seeing the end of his Tour. An ambulance has
been summoned. The peloton is racing on at 30 mph (48.2 kph).
We've crossed into Los Angeles County
and the gap is still shrinking.
14:52 PST 141.6km/28km to go
Peloton is still
moving - in double file and rotating through. The sun is out now - we can see
the shadows of the riders. It must have warmed up some because some riders have
We're below the three minute mark
- the gap is down to 2:55.
Each of the three circuits in Santa
Clarita is 3.5 miles long (5.6 km).
14:56 PST 144.6km/25km to go
25 km to go. We
can see Magic Mountain as we pass under I-5. The time gap has shrunk to 2:45.
The motorcycle official is holding up the board to lead the break riders know
We're in Santa Clarita now, so we'll
be heading onto the circuit in a few more miles. The terrain has us going over
a few roller coasters.
Yannick Talabardon (Credit Agricole)
has a rear flat - what bad timing!
Yannick Talabardon is trying to work
his way back up. The break's advantage keeps dropping - now it's at 2.15.
15:05 PST 149.6km/20km to go
We see Paolo Bettini
sitting in the pack effortlessly moving around. The lead six are still working
together, but they've been out there a long time and must be feeling the fatigue.
15:07 PST 149.6km/20km to go
The sprinters are
moving up through the field. We've got our eye on Mario Cipollini with Freddie
Rodriguez and Tom Boonen and Paolo Bettini. George Hincapie is near the front
with his High Road squad.
The leaders are entering the final
circuit now and are still rotating. The gap is at about 2 minutes.
Rabobank and Quick Step are at the
front of the pack - driving hard to bring back the break. High Road's still
up there too. Wind will certainly be a factor today.
The peloton is now on the circuit.
They'll see three to go now - what the leaders saw less than 2 minutes ago.
Three Quick Step riders are at the
front of the peloton - setting up for Boonen and Bettini.
Cozza is at the back of the break
- he took a big pull and we can't tell if he's resting up or just really hurting
at the back of it.
Based on earlier, we're guessing he's
hurting. The break riders are talking - they're probably not happy about this.
So Cozza is back in rotation - pulling his turn again.
Gap is down to 1.40. George Hincapie
is at the front of the peloton.
He's followed by two other High Road
Riders and a Quick Step rider.
Alexandre Pichot is pushing hard and
Cozza is clearly hurting. Gap is 1.30.
Rory Sutherland (Health Net p/b Maxxis)
and David Canada Gracia (Saunier Duval-Scott) look pretty good.
High Road is stringing out the main
pack, but Leipheimer still looks comfy within the field.
Cipollini is on Leipheimer's wheel.
Gap is down to 1.00.
The break sees two finishing circuits
Crash - four Rock racing riders down!!
Cipollini and Rodriguez are down.
Cipollini gets a bike swap.
We're at 55 seconds for a gap. Rodriguez
went to get back on his bike and his wheel collapsed under him.
The break is getting really disorganized
but now they're trying to get back to work.
Freddie Rodriguez is back on a bike
and rolling now.
In fact, all of our crashed riders
are up riding again. Rabobank is driving the peloton.
Mark Cavendish (High Road) is in the
caravan - we think he crashed, too.
Bettini is right up there in the pack.
The gap is down to just 25 seconds. Bettini has two other Quick Step riders
Make that four Quick Step riders with
One lap to go ... the break is separating
with just 15 seconds. Sutherland takes a flyer off the front of the break followed
They reel him in and Cozza counters.
Cozza is driving the front but the
gap is coming down fast. Peloton is in sight with Quick Step driving hard. The
break riders are looking back.
Boonen is on the front with his four
Cozza gives it another attack - he
just won't give up - what a trooper.
David Canada Gracia (Saunier Duval-Scott)
and Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole) are left off the front the rest are
caught. David Millar attacks.
Miller bridges up in TT mode - there
are three off the front now with about 5 seconds on the pack.
They've got 3km to go. Astana is reacting
to the leaders -they don't want to give up any time to Millar in the GC, esp.
with 10 seconds on the line for the winner.
Quick step is helping Astana chase.
Millar is looking for help, but his two break mates seem too fried to do much
after all day off the front.
The three are working together again
10, 6 and 4 seconds are on the line.
Alexandre Pichot (Bouygues Telecom) sits up. 1 km to go.
The other two are caught and Quick
Step is on the front.
Bettini is in fourth. High Road is
up there, too.
Rollin goes for it!
But High Road's Cavendish comes around
and takes it on the right side.
Juan Jose Haedo was in there as was
Provisional top three:
Cavendish (High Road)
2 Luciano André Pagliarini Mendonca (Saunier Duval-Scott)
3 Juan Jose Haedo (Team CSC)
Cavendish is elated with his win.
Leipheimer will hold on to his GC lead.
High Road will be delighted with their
stage win as their highest rider in the GC has been George Hincapie (High Road).
Well, that wraps up our live coverage
for stage 6. Stay tuned for our full coverage of the stage here on Cyclingnews.
Thanks for joining us and we hope you'll be back for tomorrow's final stage
7. We'll start live coverage at 12:00 noon PST / 15:00 EST.
A final note after the fact: Mark Cavendish was given a time penalty
for hanging onto a team car while trying to regain the peloton after his crash
on the finishing circuits. Therefore, Luciano André Pagliarini Mendonca (Saunier
Duval-Scott) takes the win ahead of Juan Jose Haedo (Team CSC) and world champion
Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) in third.
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