5/20/2012 - TEAM NEWS!
Gesink seals overall victory in Tour of California
Sagan wins final stage in downtown Los Angeles
Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) sprinted to his fifth stage win in the Amgen Tour of California on Sunday after a short, fast stage in downtown Los Angeles. His team set him up perfectly for the bunch sprint finish and he crossed the line ahead of Tom Boonen and Gerald Ciolek (both Omega Pharma-Quickstep).
Rabobank controlled the race to protect race leader Robert Gesink, who clinched overall victory by finishing safely in the bunch, and with aspirations of setting up Michael Matthews for the bunch sprint, but was overtaken by the Omega Pharma-Quickstep train coming into the final corner. Boonen looked to have the perfect lead-out, but Liquigas had Sagan tucked in right behind and just as he had for the first four stages, Sagan powered to the line to deny any of the others a chance at glory.
"I'm very happy with this Tour of California," Sagan said before giving a mention to his American bicycle sponsor. "I am also happy for the sponsor Cannondale because it is a very important race."
Sagan claimed the overall points classification thanks to his five stage wins, and with an unbelievable show of strength he only finished outside the top three in the time trial and Mt. Baldy stages.
After putting in such a dominant performance, Sagan has shown that he is a prime contender for the green jersey in the Tour de France. "I want to win some stage in Tour de France," Sagan said. "I think Mark Cavendish will be very strong. For the sprint, when we have flat stages it will be very hard to beat Cavendish. Maybe the stages when there are climbs before the sprint will be good for me. I don't know - we will see on the Tour de France. I also will do the Olympic Games and world championships."
For Robert Gesink, the overall win in the Amgen Tour of California was a sweet success after three times finishing as best young rider (2007-2009), and after a difficult year mourning the loss of his father and recuperating from a broken leg.
"It's moments like this, when you have your good times and your wins, that's what you do it for," said Gesink. "We have an amazing team here and the guys supported me all the way through. I had some tough months after breaking my leg and all that happened before that."
"It's a victory my team was waiting for, and this is an important race for us. Previously, I won the young rider's jersey and this time I won the overall jersey, so California is good to me."
Gesink recalled the last time he was in California he was able to share the experience with his father Dick, who passed away following a mountain bike accident in 2010.
"In October 2010, I was in the best shape of my life, I won three big races that year. The day after I won Giro Emilia, my dad had a bad crash with his bike and two weeks later he died in the hospital," Gesink said. "It was a terrible moment and [a terrible] months and years after. Of course I was doing a lot on the bike, and I started last saeson pretty good, but then a bad period came again because I crashed in Tour de France and then I broke my leg in training crash [in September].
"Emotionally it's big for me to be back on a high level and to win the toughest stage and the overall. It is good to be back in California and to be winning again."
The emotions were not quite as high for the Garmin-Barracuda duo, David Zabriskie who finished second overall after losing his jersey on Mt. Baldy, and his teammate Thomas Danielson who also had high aspirations for this race.
"Emotionally, the time trial was a high point, I came through with the win there and was feeling good, strong. I knew what I had to do yesterday, but didn't quite have it, because this guy [points to Gesink] is really strong."
Danielson was proud of the way his team raced, despite coming into the race with three leaders and coming away without the overall win. "The team rode to the plan from start to finish. We really wanted to win the race. We had a very young team that had to support three leaders (himself, Zabriskie and Andrew Talansky), they rode above themselves. Take note of Alex Howes, Jacob Rathe, they were all are phenomenal. We owe our opportunity to be on podium to them;
"We didn't know Robert was going to be as strong as he was. We did the best we could to try and put me up there to go for stage win, and for Dave to ride his tempo to the top of Mt. Baldy and hold onto the overall. We came close to pulling it off, the team should be very proud with the job everyone did."
With only 68.5km on tap for the day and a flat course from Beverly Hills to L.A. Live, it was inevitable that the day would finish in a bunch sprint. As it has every day, Bissell was represented in the move, but rather than the overall most aggressive rider Jeremy Vennell, it was Ben Jacques-Maynes who flew their colors in the breakaway. "There's going to be one breakaway today, and we'll get to have our time in front of the TV cameras and then they'll have their chance at the end, Jacques-Maynes said at the start, and his prediction proved true.
He got away before the 10km mark with Nathan Haas (Garmin), Rory Sutherland (United HealthCare); Thomas Damuseau (Argos-Shimano); Scott Zwizanski (Optum Pro Cycling) Morgan Schmitt (Exergy) and Jasper Stuyven (Bontrager-Livestrong). The seven riders worked well together until 10km to go, when Sutherland attacked the break. He was joined by Zwizanski, reeled in by Stuyven and then counter-attacked by Haas, but the peloton was right behind and swept past with 5km to go.
Vennell was awarded most aggressive rider and calculated he rode 483km off the front this week, "and probably the same amount off the back," he joked. "It feels really awesome," he said of winning the jersey. "Team Bissell we came into it hoping to be in the breakaway every day, and we did, every day we were there. I was the one lucky enough to be in the most."
Optum Pro Cycling also featured on the podium with Sebastian Salas claiming the mountains classification, and was proud to represent the Continental squad. "The team was amazing, all my teammates helped me throughout the week. After the first day in the break, day two, I didn't think I'd make it until the end, but the legs kept coming back. My team helped me through the rough spots and this is an amazing achievement for Optum Pro Cycling."
Read more on Cyclingnews.com