Garmin?s Thomas Peterson won the second stage of the Tour of California in Santa Cruz today, but the day will be remembered more for Leipheimer?s one-man show of strength, and the fact the sun came out.
Both events were celebrated by the fans at the side of the road, although it was only the ones spectating in the final few kilometres who were lucky enough to witness the latter.
Anyone who got to see Leipheimer in full flow on the stage?s final climb of Bonny Doon would have had to put up with conditions that equalled those of yesterday?s. But the weather seemed not to matter to Leipheimer as he made short work of the break?s three-minute lead on the 7.5km climb to ride himself in to the race leader?s jersey.
Without even asking his team mates to first make it hard for everyone else, Leipheimer attacked at the bottom and by the top had swept up the remnants of the break. Pushing on over the summit only Peterson, who had been in the break for most of the day, could keep up with the Astana rider who didn?t let the water running off the road slow him down on the winding descent.
No help was offered or asked for as the race?s defending champion pushed on in to Santa Cruz trying to gain maximum advantage over his rivals chasing behind.
The chase, led primarily by Columbia and Rabobank, put paid to any chances that Francesco Mancebo had of clinging on to the leader?s jersey. The Spaniard obviously hadn?t recovered from the previous day?s exertions and got dropped on the climb as the pace increased in pursuit of Leipheimer. He eventually lost 1-52 minutes by the end of the stage.
Peterson?s win was a formality, sprinting past Leipheimer who in the end only put 17 seconds in to the group of chasers behind him. Although that gap isn?t enough to make the race a formality, Leipheimer?s speed on the climb let the other teams know it is going to be near impossible to beat him this week. ?At the end it doesn?t look like [the time gap] really matters because he?s so strong,? Columbia?s Sports Director Rolf Aldag said after the stage. ?It could be 20 seconds or it could be one minute 30.
?You see Rubiera there and you see Lance there, they?re all so strong, and it seems that they can pretty much control it. We all know Levi and the time trial in Solvang, he has good memories in that so he?s definitely the big favourite for that.?
Lance Armstrong weathering the storm
Levi Leipheimer takes control
Thomas Peterson takes the stage win
Pictures by Graham Watson
Tour of California stage two: results
1. Thomas Peterson (USA) Garmin-Slipstream 186.6km in 5-06-20
2. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana at same time
3. Michael Rogers (Aus) Columbia-Highroad at 21 secs
4. Chris Horner (USA) Astana
5. Oscar Sevilla (Esp) Rock Racing
6. Kevin Seeldraeyers (Bel) Quick Step
7. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Slipstream
8. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank
9. Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank
10. David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Slipstream all at same time
91. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-Highroad at 17-10 minutes
General classification after stage two
1. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana in 9-23-02
2. Michael Rogers (Aus) Columbia-Highroad at 24 secs
3. David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Slipstream at 28 secs
4. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana at 30 secs
5. Christopher Horner (USA) Astana at 34 secs
6. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana at 38 secs
7. Thomas Lovkvist (Swe) Columbia-Highroad at same time
8. Jose Rubiera (Spa) Astana at same time
9. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas at same time
10. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank at 39 secs
89. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia at 29-50 minutes
2009 TOUR OF CALIFORNIA: LINKS
NEWS & FEATURES
2009 TOUR OF CALIFORNIA PREVIEW
2009 TOUR OF CALIFORNIA STAGES
Saturday, February 14 Prologue details
Sunday, February 15 Stage one details
Monday, February 16 Stage two details
Tuesday, February 17 Stage three details
Wednesday, February 18 Stage four details
Thursday February 19 Stage five details
Friday, February 20 Stage six details
Saturday, February 21 Stage seven details
Sunday, February 22 Stage eight details