Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) used a late race attack to bridge to the breakaway and steal the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California from a group which included perennial crowd favourite George Hincapie (BMC Racing). Behind the stage hunters, Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) covered numerous attacks by both Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) and Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) to hold onto the gold jersey and win the overall title.
The day’s final stage was anything but ceremonial. The riders covered four laps of a 21-mile circuit and while the first half of each lap was flat or slightly downhill, the second half looked like the readout from an ECG. It was here, on the last lap that any race-changing moves would be launched.
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It was a first lap breakaway that included Hincapie, Carlos Barredo (Quick Step), Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack), Oscar Pujol (Cervelo Test Team), Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank), Jeremy Vennell (Bissell) and Thomas Rabou (Team Type 1) that looked to steal the stage honors while Rogers, Zabriskie and Leipheimer fought out the overall lead behind.
On the last lap, the attacks from Leipheimer and Zabriske shattered the peloton and only Rogers, Hesjedal and Chris Horner (RadioShack) were able to answer the moves. It was high drama with Rogers, who, unlike his two protagonists, had no teammates for support. However, the HTC-Columbia rider was able to cover every move.
Hesjedal and Horner were able to slip away when their group paused momentarily at the top of the climb. The two worked well together to close the 45-second gap to the Hincapie-led breakaway. The crowd was cheering for the Team BMC rider to take the win, but the crafty Canadian, Hesjedal, proved just a bit too quick.
Tour of California 2010, stage 8: Thousand Oaks/Westlake Village/Agoura Hills circuit, 134km
1. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions in 3-21-56
2. George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team
3. Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Quick Step
4. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack
5. Oscar Pujol Munoz (Spa) Cervelo at 5secs
6. Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Rabobank at 28secs
7. Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack
8. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia
9. David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Transitions
10. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) RadioShack at 34secs
Final overall classification
1. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia in 33-08-30
2. David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Transitions at 9secs
3. Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack at 25secs
4. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack at 1-04
5. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions at 1-08
6. Jens Voigt (Ger) Saxo Bank at 1-44
7. Rory Sutherland (Aus) Unitedhealthcare at 1-58
8. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo at 2-06
9 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) RadioShack at 2-42
10. Phil Zajicek (USA) Fly V Australia at 3-21