While Tony Martin won the Amgen Tour of California’s stage seven 20-mile (33.6km) time trial in Los Angeles, it was his HTC-Columbia team-mate Michael Rogers who continued to stamp his authority on the race.
The 30-year old Aussie placed second behind Martin, beating his chief overall rivals Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) in second and Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) in third by five and 11 seconds respectively to solidify his grip on the overall lead.
Last year, Rogers finished fourth in the time trial, ceding 22 seconds to the winner Leipheimer. Today he turned the tables on a warm and blustery day in Los Angeles. With Leipheimer now third overall 25 seconds back, it may be too late for the three-time champion to wrestle the jersey from Rogers’ shoulder.
Sunday’s stage does offer a few opportunities with four laps of a deceptively difficult 21-mile circuit in the Santa Monica mountains. The first ten miles are fast and flat, the second half of the course includes the famous Rock Store climb, a 2.5-mile ascent which starts at 6% and rises to 9% near the end. After some more uphill and false flats, there is a tricky descent back to the finish line.
Because the initial ten miles of each lap allows for a concerted chase, look for a bold move on the final lap by anyone looking to gain time in the overall standings. Both Zabriskie, who sits in second, and Leipheimer have teams capable of orchestrating such a move. The race is far from over.
Double stage winner Peter Sagan (Liquigas) was a rider of interest in the day’s test against the clock. He finished 17th, 1-25 back of runner-up Rogers and dropped from third to seventh overall. However, since the Slovakian is only 20 years old, it is probably safe to say that his time trialling skills will only improve with time. Sagan is clearly a star of the future.
The 2010 Tour of California concludes on Sunday (May 23) with a 134km stage based on a circuit of Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village and Agoura Hills. Mark Cavendish will not be one of those contesting the stage – the British HTC-Columbia sprinter missed the time cut on stage six and is out of the race.
Landis makes appearance
Floyd Landis chose stage seven of the Tour of California to make his first public appearance since the publication of a series of emails wirtten by the American containing comprehensive doping allegations made against several high-profile US riders, including Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer and David Zabriskie.
Landis was a guest of sponsor OUCH, and briefly made an appearance in the company’s marquee, where he chatted with guests but resolutely refused to speak to the press. Several minders were in attendance and attempted to block photographers from snapping a photos of Landis.
Landis left the private tent promptly, and was whisked through the crowds to make a swift exit.
Tour of California 2010, stage 7 ITT: Los Angeles, 33.6km
1. Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-Columbia in 41-41
2. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia at 22secs
3. David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Transitions at 27secs
4. Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack at 33secs
5. Jens Voigt (Ger) Saxo Bank at 59secs
6. Bert Grabsch (Ger) HTC-Columbia at 1-06
7. Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank at 1-12
8. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack at 1-19
9. Rory Sutherland (Aus) Unitedhealthcare at 1-19
10. Robert Hunter (RSA) Garmin-Transitions at 1-21
Overall classification after stage 7
1. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia in 29-46-06
2. David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Transitions at 9secs
3. Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack at 25secs
4. Jens Voigt (Ger) Saxo Bank at 1-12
5. Rory Sutherland (Aus) Unitedhealthcare at 1-26
6. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack at 1-32
7. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo at 1-34
8. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions at 1-46
9. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) RadioShack at 2-10
10. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Transitions at 2-21