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The AMGEN Tour of California 2009

Added: monday 23 February 2009 at 1:04:00
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    The AMGEN Tour of California 2009

    initially published on 19 February at 23.57
    updated on 20 February at 0h38 and at 23h40, on 22 February at 0h38 and on 23 February at 1h04
    The Amgen Tour of California was created in the state of California in the United States in 2006 and after its first edition the UCI upgraded this race from the 2.1 category to the 2.HC category. Only two other American races are in this category, the Tour of Georgia and the Tour of Missouri.

    The race which started in Sacramento on Valentine's day will finish on Sunday in Escondido.

    The route and the results

    For a total of 1.444 kilometers, the Tour of California is composed of 8 stages of which you can find a short description below. I'll try to update these descriptions with the results in the upcoming days.

    First, below you can find the map with all stages.
    The map of the Amgen Tour of California

    Prologue - Sacramento
    Fabian CancellaraIt all started on Saturday 14 February 2009 with a prologue in the form of a time trial over a distance of 3,9 kilometers on an almost completely flat track.

    This prologue was won by Spartacus, better know by his real name Fabian Cancellara, of the Saxo Bank team in 4:32.909 ahead of 2/ Levi Leipheimer (Astana) at 00:01.204, 3/ David Zabriskie (Garmin Slipstream) at 00:02.648, 4/ Michael Rogers (Team Columbia) at 00:02.790, 5/ Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) at 00:03.132.
    In the top 10 we could also find in this order George Hincapie (Team Columbia), Tom Boonen (QuickStep), Mark Renshaw (Team Columbia), Svein Tuft (Garmin Slipstream) and Lance Armstrong (Astana).

    A surprising victory for Spartacus since he was a bit ill before he started his prologue. Apparently he really wanted to repeat the great job he did last year when he already won the Tour of California prologue (just like he won the Tour de France prologue in 2007, see photo).

    First stage - Davis > Santa Rosa
    From Davis to Santa Rosa, the riders had to do 173,2 kilometers with 3 small climbs which counted for the king of the mountains jersey: on highway 128 in category 4 at 312 meters, the Howell Mountain in 2nd category at 547 meters and finally Petrified Forest in 4th category at 332 meters. At the end of the track, 3 tours were planned on a 5 kilometer local circuit in the city of Santa Rosa.

    Almost immediately after the start Francisco Mancebo (Rock Racing) attacked and went away alone before being joined by Aaron Kemp (Fly V Australia) and Tim Johnson (OUCH) in the descent of the first climb. The three riders managed to grow their lead up to 12 minutes before Francisco Mancebo again attacked in the second climb. Despite a chasing peloton and especially the leaders of Astana, Mancebo managed to stay ahead until the first crossing of the finish line.

    Since the weather was quite bas and the pooring rain made the circuit in Santa Rosa potentially dangerous, the race organisers decided to shorten the stage by deciding who was the winner of the stage at the first crossing of the finish line. That's how Mancebo won this first stage of the Tour of California 2009.

    Robert GesinkSuffering from the flu and fever, Fabian Cancellara abandoned in the first feeding zone. He woke up in the middle of the night with fever but decided it was important to try to see whether he could defend his yellow jersey. This didn't work out in the end, so during the stage Levi Leipheimer became the virtual yellow jersey, but with his stage victory Francisco Mancebo finally managed to take the yellow jersey (ahead of Levi Leipheimer and David Zabriskie). He also took the KOM jersey and the best sprinter's jersey.
    As for the other jerseys, the most courageous rider was Ivan Basso (Liquigas) and the best young rider's jersey was for the Dutch rider Robert Gesink (Rabobank, photo).

    Second stage - Sausalito > Santa Cruz
    Golden Gate BridgeThe second stage started on Monday 16 February in Sausalito, a city / naturel park at the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge from the City by the bay, San Francisco. The start of this stage probably allowed for beautiful pictures to be taken with the start on the waterside in Sausalito and than the crossing of the famous Golden Gate Bridge (photo, the most popular picture on my website!) which never before had been part of the Tour of California route, and finally a visit of the streets of San Francisco.
    The stage then continued on a route along the coast with two long but easy climbs, Tunitas Creek Road and Bonny Doon Road. The riders crossed a distance of 186,6 kilometers.
    Thomas Peterson
    At the start of the stage a group of ten riders took a lead on the peloton and stayed ahead until the second climb. In the second climb Carlos Barredo (QuickStep) attacked. Astana got organised in the peloton to chase the group of nine riders and Carlos Barredo and just after that Levi Leipheimer alone took a lead on the peloton. In the group of nine riders, Thomas Peterson (Garmin Slipstream) and Jason McCartney (Saxo Bank) finally chased Barredo before they got taken back themselves by Leipheimer. McCartney couldn't follow Leipheimer's pace since he was trying to do everything to get the yellow jersey; Leipheimer thus continued alone with Peterson. However, McCartney joined them again in the descent.

    After yet another day in the rain, the riders have finally found the sun in Santa Cruz and Leipheimer, happy to take the yellow jersey, allowed Thomas Peterson (photo) to take the stage win.

    Troisième stage - San Jose > Modesto
    On Tuesday 17 February the riders connected San Jose to Modesto, while last year they did the same stage the other way around during the Amgen Tour of California 2008. In the direction they did it this year the start of the stage was quite rude since after only 8 kilometers they were already at the foot of the first climb of the day, Sierra Road: a 592 meter climb (1st category). 75 kilometers after the start the riders did the second climb, the Patterson Pass (484 meters, 4th category) before starting their descent and a 80 kilometer flat part including two tours on the local circuit at the finish.

    Thor HushovdStill in the rain, 4 riders, Jeff Louder (BMC), Bradley White (OUCH), Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) and Brian Vandborg (Liquigas), quickly took a lead on the peloton. These riders managed to keep their lead up to the local circuit in Modesto but unfortunately for them the sprinter teams worked hard to take them back.

    Finally Cervélo TestTeam managed to that best by giving Thor Hushovd a perfect position in the sprint. The Norvegian sprinter thus started his 2009 victory counter.

    Although the Dutch rider Bauke Mollema was virtual leader during the stage, the peloton finally finished all together and Levi Leipheimer thus kept his yellow jersey.

    Oscar Freire finished second in this stage. On the Tour of California not only the stage winner but also the numbers two and three are put up on stage at the ceremony. Since Freire didn't know that he was already taking his shower when he should have been up stage. The organisation thus asked Robert Gesink to receive the flowers instead of his team mate ... which he finally accepted without realy wanting to do so ...

    Fourth stage - Merced > Clovis
    Mark CavendishThe fourth stage on Wedneday 18 February was the first one which took place under a clear sky with a nice sun. Between the start in Merced and the finish in Clovis, 186 kilometers further, the track was quite hilly with no less than 5 climbs in the Sierra Mountains: on the CA140 highway (3th category, 694 meters), followed by 3 connected climbs on the CA49 highway (two of the 4th category at 751 and 888 meters and one of the 3rd category, 992 meters) and finally Crane Valley Road (3rd category, 1113 meters) before a long descent towards the finish.

    Almost like the previous day it was now a break away of three riders, Serge Pauwels (Cervélo TestTeam), Tyler Hamilton (Rock Racing) and Jason McCartney (Saxo Bank), which managed to keep its lead on the peloton for the whole day to be finally taken back by the sprinter teams just before the end. In the end, the organisers had to check the finish photo to know whether Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia) or Tom Boonen (QuickStep) won the sprint. Just like the last stage of the Tour of Qatar the British sprinter won the sprint.

    Fifth stage - Visalia > Paso Robles
    On Thursday 19 February the start of the stage was completely flat from the start in Visalia from which the riders followed straight lines pretty much up to the first sprint in Cholame. Before the sprint there were some small climbs but they didn't count for the KOM jersey. At the finish in Paso Robles everyone expected yet another nouveau sprint and that's exactly what happened.

    Yet another stage in the sun with temperatures of about 20°C, the riders who did manage to survive the first very rainy days must have appreciated that. After less than 10 kilometers, a break away was formed of six riders: Pieter Weening (Rabobank), Jeff Louder (BMC), Cameron Evans (OUCH), Matthew Crane (Jelly Belly), Curtis Gunn (Fly V Australia) and Glen Chadwick (Rock Racing). This break away took a lead of up to 8 minutes, putting Pieter Weening virtually in the yellow jersey, before the lead decreased.

    Mark CavendishAt 25 kilometers from the finish, Jeff Louder and Curtis Gunn could no longer follow and the break away was thus reduced to 4 riders with a 2 minutes 30 lead. Close to the finish Matthew Crane tried several times to attack but couldn't get away from his break away companions. This did however break the team work of those 4 riders and since the peloton was already doing its best to catch up with them, that's what happened at 4 kilometers from the finish.

    Columbia and Cervélo TestTeam were then fighting for the stage victory, but finally it was again a race between Mark Cavendish and Tom Boonen and again Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia) won the stage.

    Tom Boonen (QuickStep) was second, this time with a bike length distance (compared to the millimeters the day before) and Pedro Horrillo (Rabobank) third.

    With this victory, Cavendish also took the green jersey of best sprinter thanks to the points he took on the finish line. Levi Leipheimer kept his yellow jersey with a 24 seconds lead on Michael Rogers (Team Columbia), 28 seconds on David Zabriskie (Garmin Slipstream), 30 on Lance Armstrong (Astana) and 34 on number 5, Christopher Horner (Astana).

    Sixth stage - individual time trial in Solvang
    The sixth stage could well be the most important one for the final result of this Tour of California. Indeed, at two days from the finish, the riders got to measure themselves individually in a 24 kilometer time trial around the city of Solvang. Around this originally Danish city, the riders discovered a relatively flat track which however after 13 kilometers included a short one kilometer climb of the Ballard Canyon.

    Levi Leipheimer started his race in the yellow jersey at 23h07 (CET). At the intermediate timing point a computer error made us believe that Michael Rogers was 2 minutes ahead of David Zabriskie at that point. Finally it turned out he was 24 seconds behind. Levi Leipheimer passed there 2.4 seconds ahead of Zabriskie who registered the best time so far when he finished a few minutes later.

    Finally Levi Leipheimer won the Solvang time trial for the third year in row. David Zabriskie finished second at 8.432 seconds and Gustav Larsson third at 16.946s.

    Seventh stage - Santa Clarita > Pasadena
    Rinaldo NocentiniFor the forelast stage the riders didn't see the easiest route ever ... after a quiet climb of about 40 kilometers they attacked the difficult climb of the Millcreek Summit (1495 m, category 3) with its top at 60 kilometers from the start. This was followed by a long descent until the first crossing of the finish line. A short local circuit of about 8 kilometers was done 4 times before the final finish of the stage.

    Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale) won this stage in a sprint before Hayden Roulston (Cervélo Test Team) and Pieter Weening (Rabobank).

    Markus Zberg (BMC Racing Team), Martin Elmiger (AG2R La Mondiale), Chris Baldwin (Rock Racing), George Hincapie (Team Columbia), Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank), Christian Vandevelde (Garmin Slipstream) and Addy Engels (QuickStep) finished the stage in that order 7 seconds after these three riders who broke away from the leading group.

    These 10 riders together formed today's break away.

    In the descent of Millcreek Summit Francisco Mancebo (Rock Racing), wearing the KOM jersey, fall and was taken to the hospital. Jason McCartney (Saxo Bank) is now the new KOM.

    Eighth stage - Rancho Bernardo > Escondido
    The very last stage took place on Sunday 22 February between Rancho Bernardo and Escondido. As the organisor of the Tour of California says, most stage races finish with a more or less symbolic stage, but this is not the case for the Tour of California: this last stage can still have an important influence on the general classification with its 4 climbs which can also make the KOM jersey change shoulders.
    In the 156 kilometers of this stage the riders first found the climb of the Highland Valley Road (4th category, 209 meters) followed by a relatively flat part of the track before they start the climb of Lake Wohlford Road (3rd category, 445 meters) and after the descent they had to climb the Palomar Mountain, the highest point ever visited since the creation of the Amgen Tour of California with its top at 1561 mètres (hors category): a 18,8 kilometer climb at 7% average. With its 21 bends this climb makes us think of the Alpe d'Huez in the Tour de France!

    Levi LeipheimerAfter the descent there was yet another climb: the Cole Grade (4th category, 517 meters) before the final descent of the Tour of California 2009 towards Escondido.

    Levi Leipheimer managed to take his yellow jersey back home for the third year in row!

    Frank SchleckThe stage victory went to Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) in front of Vincenzo Nibali. In the peloton George Hincapie won the sprint for the third place at 39 seconds.

    Frank Schleck also got the bleu jersey for the most combative rider.

    Levi Leipheimer rode the 1444 kilometers in 31 hours, 28 minutes and 21 seconds and finish in the general classification in front of David Zabriskie (36 seconds) and Michael Rogers (45 seconds). Jens Voigt finished fourth and Thomas Lovkvist fifth.

    Robert Gesink (Rabobank) was the best young rider with the jersey sponsored by ... Rabobank!
    Mark Cavendish was the best sprinter (with 36 points far ahead of Vincenzo Nibali with 22 points) and Jason McCartney (Saxo Bank) the best climber after Mancebo's fall yesterday (with 39 points he was far ahead of Tyler Hamilton with 22 and Serge Pauwels with 21 points).

    The broadcasting of the Tour of California 2009

    TV broadcasting
    As A.S.O. says on the letour.fr website: for the first time, the Amgen Tour of California professional cycling race will be broadcast internationally. The race will be broadcast live in more than 90 countries available to more than 200 million households across Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Oceania and Africa. The unprecedented coverage is due to the partnership established with Amaury Sport Organisation which has assisted AEG with the international television distribution of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California, further strengthening the partnership between the two cycling tour owners announced in June 2008..

    Indeed, the organiser of especially the Tour de France (Amaury Sport Organisation, A.S.O.) and the organiser of the Amgen Tour of California (Anschutz Entertainment Group, AEG) have announced a partnership on 16 June 2008 which led to the creation of a promotion programme for the two cycling races: the Tour de France since its 2008 edition and the Tour of California for the first time in 2009. In return for A.S.O.'s help for the international distribution of broadcasting rights for the Amgen Tour of California on TV and new media supports, AEG assists A.S.O. in selling specific partnership formulas for companies and sponsors who would like to communicate in the USA through the most famous cycling brand (Tour de France). During the Tour de France, A.S.O. organised an online game which allowed participants to win invitations to assist to the Californian race while the Tour of California web site currently proposes an online game which allows to win a VIP trip to the Tour de France 2009.

    Broadcasting on the web
    If like me you don't have a TV or if you cannot get the channel which broadcasts the Californian race in your country ... don't worry!
    Indeed, you can follow everything (well, that is, when the weather is OK and the broadcaster is able to get its planes up in the sky to send the images back to the finish line!) live on the Internet at tracker.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
    There you can follow the race with the images commented by Joe Silva and the former rider Frankie Andreu (who rode in the US Postal team among others).

    The sponsors of the Tour of California

    While this is rarely the case for European races, the Tour of California's name, officially the AMGEN Tour of California, contains the name of its main sponsor, AMGEN. AMGEN is a biotechnology company and has been the main sponsor of the Tour of California since its first edition in 2006.

    The other sponsors are shown below and what's funny to see is that there are 4 sponsors which are also main sponsor of one of the teams which participate in the race: the Dutch bank Rabobank with its North American daughter company, Columbia, Fly V Australia and Sport Beans for Jelly Belly Cycling.
    The sponsors of the Tour of California

    by Thomas Vergouwen
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Comments

Currently 2 comments!
  1. Goedemorgen Thomas,
    Ik ben heel blij dat je de ronde van Californie op je site hebt gezet. Ik volg deze Amgen Tour al vanf de oprichting, maar dze informatie was in het engels en m.i. niet zo overzichtelijk in beeld gebacht als ik dat gewend was op jouw site. Dus mijn complimenten voor deze overzichtelijke informatie en nogmaals bedankt.

    met vriendelijke groeten,

    Henk Scholten,
    (de fietsende lamdmeter uit Beuningen(O))

    | Henk Scholten | tuesday 24 February 2009 at 6:56:18

  2. Bedankt voor de complimenten!

    Het is met name te danken aan de live-uitzending via Internet (de "tracker") dat ik deze informatie online heb kunnen zetten en iedere dag meteen na de finish heb kunnen bijwerken. Dat zouden meer wielerwedstrijden moeten doen zo'n volledige live-uitzending van alle etappes :-) !

    | Thomas Vergouwen | tuesday 24 February 2009 at 23:58:07

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