Argentina?s JJ Haedo won his first race for CSC on Tuesday, beating all the best European and US sprinters in the centre of Sacramento.
After the controversy of Monday?s stage, when a mass pile-up on the finishing circuit resulted in all the riders being awarded the same time, the three finishing circuits were fast but safe.
Navigators and T-Mobile tried to control the lead out but then the riders moved up for the final kilometre. Stuart O?Grady pulled Haedo clear of the fighting in the final five hundred metres and then the powerful sprinter opened up in the last 200 metres. He got a gap with his impressive jump and nobody got close to catching him. Italy?s Luca Paolini (Liquigas) was second and Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) was third.Russell Downing (Healthnet) finished in 14th place, while Charly Wegelius (Liquigas) was 103rd in the main bunch.
The stage was marked by a long break by Christophe Laurent (Credit Agricole), Omer Kem (Priority Health) and Ireland?s David McCann (Colavita). They opened five a minute gap but were eventually caught on the flat roads before Sacramento.
Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel) finished safely in the bunch and so retained his one-second lead on Jason Donald (Team Slipstream). Ben Jacques-Maynes is third at five seconds.
The sprint win was JJ Haedo?s first big success since signing for CSC during the winter. He won two stages in California last year but could be the surprise sprinter of the season if he can use his powerful acceleration in the European sprints. He is scheduled to ride Milan-San Remo in March and then the Giro d?Italia in May.
?Yesterday it was frustrating because I had to brake in the sprint and watch the others fight it our. Today I got a lot of help from Fabian (Cancellara) and Stuey (O?Grady),? Haedo said.
?I was on Stuey?s wheel and he was fourth or fifth position into the last corner. When I saw 300 I told him to go and he went from 350 to 200. I went then and got a gap and I was lucky to keep it. We?re a pretty combo he?s good on the bike and knows were to be. He was calm and calmed me down too. So I didn?t have to go crazy to get to the front.?
?I?m first sprinter in the team for seven years and I know I have to win races. It?s pressure but its good and when you have a CSC jersey, you get respected for it and you have to use that. I wanted to show them I could do it to gain their confidence and now I think they?ll give an even bigger effort to get me to the line for the sprint.?
Wednesday?s 94.6-mile stage three is from Stockton to San Jose in the heart of Silicon Valley. The stage includes four climbs including the tough Sierra Road climb that goes up to 2000ft. It is just 20-miles from the finish and will definitely shape the overall the classification. Rain is also expected to make the racing even tougher.
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