The Amgen Tour of California traveled down the California coast and through the Redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains in constant drenching rain that Levi Leipheimer likened to an all day cold shower.
Tom Peterson on the left passes Levi Leipheimer in the final straightaway for the win.
Fans lined the roads all through Santa Cruz County in spite of the heavy rain and a mudslide that briefly closed Highway 17. Santa Cruz favorite Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) said he was very pleased to see the local turnout.
As the cyclists approached the city of Santa Cruz, the clouds parted and the sun shone down on the fans and the race. A breakaway of Tom Peterson (Garmin-Chipotle) and Levi Leipheimer (Astana) raced through town as cowbells clanged, with Levi leading and Tom Peterson sucking on Levi's wheel until they were about 50 yards from the finish line, when Tom zipped to the side and pulled away For The Win.
Levi's second place finish on the heels of Peterson earned him the Yellow Jersey, which he intends to hold on to through Escondido.
Michael Rogers of Team Columbia-High Road rounded out the podium for third place.
The blue and gold of Astana dominates in the GC rankings, with Levi Leipheimer, Lance Armstrong (!) in fourth place, and Chris Horner in fifth. Michael Rogers is in second, while Dave Zabriskie (Garmin Slipstream) is in third place overall. My vote is for Levi but these are all very strong riders.
In last place today was Phil Southerland of Team Type 1. I talked with Phil last year and I'm really impressed with his effort, especially because he has Type 1 Diabetes. Major props to Phil for what he's doing!
DNF's today are Kirk O'Bee (Bissell), Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell), Moises Aldape Chavez (Team Type 1), Jonathan Clarke (Fly V Austalia/Successful Living), Scott Davis (Fly V Austalia/Successful Living). I don't know about the others, but Andy Jacques-Maynes -- Ben Jacques-Maynes' brother -- crashed and reportedly hit a parked car. He was transported to a Santa Cruz hospital but he's doing fine.
View more photos from today's stage in my Tour of California Stage 2 set. I'm still uploading them as of 7:30 PM so give it some time, please! I appreciate any and all comments and questions.
Joel- That was a common move in racing. Levi is geeting the overall lead and yellow jersey so he gives the win to his break partner. Win-win for both. And since Levi wasn't greedy in taking both win and GC, Peterson may me more willing to work for Levi down the road. If Levi didn't stand to take GC, then it would have been a cheap(er) win. Then again, Levi didn't have to lead out the finish either.
I'm with BikerDude -- the GC will often sacrifice a stage win because Peterson isn't a threat to Levi, and Peterson may very well pull Levi along in a later stage, especially if they're in a small breakaway like today or a chase group down the road.
In this case, though, it looked to me like Levi didn't give up the stage win without a fight -- he was straining for all he was worth to catch up with Peterson.
Levi surely is looking suspicious to me after that stage. He dropped the peleton, bombed up the biggest climb of the day, reeled in all the leaders, sped past them, and towed another rider for 20 miles or so till about 100 metres from the finish line.
Peterson did his job to perfection. If Peterson - of Garmin Chipotle - works with Levi, then Levi gets a bigger time gap. Who is in 2nd place? Zabriskie - of Garmin Chipotle. If Peterson works DaveZ would bite off his head. And as such Peterson won't be helping Levi anytime soon either.
Once that is settled, Peterson also needs to take the stage to take an extra several seconds of time bonus away from Levi.
There was no sacrifice here. Sacrificing a stage would have been if someone from BMC or some such shit was with Levi, and Levi offers the stage win if the guy helps him build a time gap.
Of course Peterson was so knackered he would have been unable to take a pull anyway.