Steady rain wreaked havoc on the peloton during stage two of the Amgen Tour of California with Brett Lancaster (Cervelo Test Team) taking the win from a group of 25 riders which formed after the last big climb of the day.
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Most of the race favourites, including Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack), Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) and Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia), finished in the front on a day which saw the man many feared the most eliminated from the overall classification.
Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) has been fighting sickness since the start of the race and finally succumbed to his illness, losing 8-28 and dropping out of contention.
Three-time winner Leipheimer had tabbed the Swiss rider as a darkhorse for the overall, noting that with the lack of mountain top finishes in the Amgen Tour of California, if Cancellara could ride like he did to win last year’s Tour of Switzerland, he would be a definite contender.
Stage two, a 114-mile test from Davis to Santa Rosa – hometown of Leipheimer – included four categorised climbs, the final two, Oakville Grade (one mile at 12-15%) and Trinity Grade (three miles 8-10%) being the most difficult.
Reached at mile 87 and 90 respectively, they would definitely provide some late stage excitement.
True to his word before the start, Michael Friedman (Jelly Belly) led a group of five riders off the front early into the stage. The quintet, which also included Thomas Rabou (Team Type 1), Karl Menzies (United Healthcare Presented by Maxxis), Jay Robert Thomson (Fly V Australia), and Andrew Randell (SpiderTech Powered by Planet Energy) all domestic pro teams. Traditionally, the Pro Tour teams have run roughshod over the home squads, this was a chance for the home boys to get some payback.
While the break reached a maximum of about six minutes, Oakville Grade and Trinity Grade splintered the group and only Menzies and Rabou survived at the front. Back in the main peloton, the same climbs also produced the major selection and the chase was on to see if the two leaders could survive the final 20 miles to the finish.
The 25 chasers from the peloton caught Menzies and Rabou with eight miles remaining, setting up the bunch kick won by Lancaster over rising star Peter Sagan (Liquigas) and Menzies. Lancaster assumed the race leader’s jersey from stage one winner Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) who finished 17 minutes back.
Tour of California 2010, stage two: Davis – Santa Rosa, 176km
1. Brett Lancaster (Aus) Cervelo in 4-38-48
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo
3. Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank
4. Rory Sutherland (Aus) Unitedhealthcare
5. Andre Steensen (Den) Saxo Bank
6. Francois Parisien (Can) SpiderTech
7. Levi Leipheimer (USA)RadioShack
8. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions
9. Lars Ytting Bak (Den) HTC-Columbia
10. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia all same time.
Overall classification after stage two
1. Brett Lancaster (Aus) Cervelo in 8-43-24
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo at 4secs
3. Karl Menzies (Aus) Unitedhealthcare at 4secs
4. Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank at 6secs
5. Thomas Rabou (Ned) Team Type 1 at 6secs
6. Marc De Maar (Ned) Unitedhealthcare at 7secs
7. Paul Mach (USA) Bissell at 8secs
8. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia at 10secs
9. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) RadioShack at 10secs
10. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions at 10secs
11. Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack at 10secs