Sunday, February 22, 2009

Last Day of the AMGEN Tour of California 2009

Today is the last day of the Tour and the winner will be announced soon. Here's a peak of what they have to do:

And from yesterday, here is a nice clip of the start of Stage 7 with shots along the way.


Stage 7 Press Conference clip
"Christian Vande Velde, Stage 7's Break Away from Cancer Jersey winner stops in to field a few questions. "


Found the following article interesting...

Pasadena Rose Bowl Photo © 2009 Lily Trevisanut

2009 Tour of California - Stage 7 Reactions

By Staff
Date: 2/22/2009

Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA), Stage 7 Winner Ag2r la Mondiale
On the race overall:
“I have definitely been very impressed by the Amgen Tour of California. The mountains have been hard for me. I crashed on the second day and the rain has been hard, but I made good preparations, and for me, this victory was very, very important.”

On his team’s strategy today:
“We had two riders (of the 10) in the front group, so we are really happy how we played our tactics to our advantage. In the final sprint, I didn’t know the other two riders, but the way they played it was to my advantage. They set me up well for the finish that happened. There was an initial attack by a Rabobank rider, but we worked together to keep the breakaway together in the last three kilometers. I was pretty confident I could win, but I didn’t know for sure. I’m very content with how it came out.”

“It was really just by chance we got two riders in there (in the top-10), but I’m happy it came out like that because it made the difference in the end.”

On his team overall:
“We are down to five riders. One guy had a knee problem coming into the race, but with five guys, we are still a good team and we are still ready to race. This is our team’s first victory of the year, so we are happy about that. I’ve had other victories before, but I think the field is much better here, so looking back, I think this victory will be more important because all of the top riders are here.”

Floyd Landis OUCH p/by Maxxis Inaugural Amgen Tour of California Winner
On the Amgen Tour of California:
“I think every year since the first year in 2006, this race has grown. I’ve always been impressed with the dedication of the fans. It was hard for us to get motivated in the early part of the race when it was cold and raining, but the fans were still there and that helped boost morale. Thankfully the weather has gotten better, but it has still been a very difficult race. I’m hoping we can keep the momentum going. I think if the crowds were any indication today, people were happy to have the race come through Pasadena.”

On how he feels about his performance thus far:
“I haven’t raced in two and a half years, and it’s a difficult race, but we’re doing the best we can. I’m a little disappointed with how things have gone, but I’ve gotten through all of the obstacles. After I fell on my hip, I was fine and I haven’t had any problems as a result of that. After riding around in the rain and snow, you’re going to feel a little under the weather, but I don’t think it is any different than what everyone else is feeling. I think I feel about the same as everyone else.”

On his return to professional cycling:
“I’ve missed racing. It has been a large part of my life, and for the last few years I’ve been gone, so it feels good to be back. I’m really not sure what my long-term goals are at this point. Sometimes, when you are racing, your goals become very shortsighted, so hopefully after this race is over, I can reassess what I want.”

“I never really got into cycling because I wanted attention, I like cycling for the challenges and the experiences that I’ve had. It’s certainly touching to come out and have so many people cheering for not just me, but everyone. To see that in the U.S., and this close to home, is really satisfying.”

On how his hip feels:
“After my surgery, my hip is a lot less affected by temperature. Sometimes the pain would change with the pressure or the weather, but that’s gone now. I’m quite pleased that I can race now without having to think about that.”

On tomorrow’s stage, which includes a climb up Palomar Mountain:
“I’ve never really raced up it before. My experience usually involves a burrito at the bottom (laughing). I’m sure tomorrow will be much faster than I’ve rode it on my own, and there are a few climbs before Palomar. After a week-long stage race, a lot of guys are tired, so the peloton will probably split up easier. The climb is pretty consistent and it goes from a five or six percent grade to an eight percent grade. It’s as hard of a climb as you’ll find anywhere, especially at this stage in the race. Astana has been determined to control the race, and they’ve done a good job, but tomorrow will be difficult. It would be a risk for some guys to try and take the win, but if they have the position, they could do it; I know I would.”

On the possibility of a major attack during tomorrow’s stage:
“Tomorrow’s a good stage for that sort of thing. Hopefully you’ll get to see one; I wish somebody would try it. It’s very close in the general classification, so I would try to get some time back if I were in their shoes. Levi and his team are strong, but they’ve had a hard time controlling the whole race. Whether or not I’ll be there is hard to say. I know the streets pretty well, so we’ll see what happens.”

On tomorrow’s Cole Grade climb:
“When I thought about how the race was going to play out, I didn’t think it (Cole Grade) was going to be that much of a factor. But, the first couple of days, it wasn’t really easy for anybody to get away; it was rainy and the peloton was really split up. When everyone is that tired, and you come to a climb like that, it can do some damage. If somebody wants to get some time there, going full-speed, it’s a 10-minute climb, and after that, it’s a lot of rolling and downhill racing. If there’s a decisive place in the race where someone wants to make up time, that would be it. We’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out; we’ll have to see how the peloton looks when they start the climb. It’s the place to try something if you’re a general classification guy.”

Earlier the press had been informed that Landis would not be answering questions about anything other than the race, when someone asked if he would comment on why he wouldn't answer questions on the past two years, Floyd's commented after a smile and pause, that he would chose not to comment on commenting on not commenting on the past.. leaving the international group of journalists in uncontrollable laughter.

Ivan Basso (ITA) Liquigas
On sustaining an injury shortly before the individual time trial on Saturday, February 20:
“I apologize for not commenting sooner, but it was very difficult to communicate what happened yesterday quickly because I got hurt early in the morning. I had been training earlier and I hit my knee on the handlebar of my bike. I started to feel bad during the warm-up; I couldn’t push the pedal.”

“The medical staff was amazing. I had immediate attention yesterday, and they helped me last night and again this morning. I had an MRI to check on my knee and the doctor said that I could possibly do more damage if I continued to race, so it is best if I stop now. Small problems can sometimes turn into big problems, and as a cyclist, I need a clear mind to ride, and I just can’t continue knowing that I could do more damage. I have been given such great attention. I have raced many years as a professional and I can say that the level of the medical staff here is very high.”

“I am very sad to leave here because this is a fantastic race. I did some of my best riding in the first three or four days; I was riding really well in front. I knew I didn’t have the legs to win the race, but my intention was to do my best. I want to thank everyone, including the fans, for their support. For me, I really enjoyed the first part of the week. It is a very important race, but it’s impossible to compete in a race like this with only one good leg.”

“There is a really high level of competition and speed in this race, and you can’t race at only fifty percent. Also, continuing to race might make the injury worse, and in this race, there is really no time to recover. Every day there are sprint and King of the Mountain (KOM) competitions, and the level of competition here is really high. This is one of the best races in the world. All of the best riders are here, and even when people are only going at fifty percent, it’s still a fast race.”

“In the first couple of days, a lot of interesting things were happening; everyone was going full gas the whole time. But in this situation, I can’t continue. I am very sad and I promise to come again next year and do well. I have received so much support from the race staff, the fans, everyone.”

“Again, I want to say thank you to everyone for their support, and congratulations on such a great race. I also want to say thank you to my team and the sponsors for their support. It is a great feeling knowing everyone is there for me”

Levi Leipheimer Astana
On today’s race:
“It was a hard stage in the beginning. There were a lot of attacks with riders dangerous for the general classification. We had to chase them down always. It took a while before there was a breakaway with which we could agree. We were not really chasing them, but when we arrived in Pasadena for the first time, the gap was four minutes and thirty seconds, and as (George) Hincapie and (Frank) Schleck were at six minutes and thirty seconds, we decided to let the gap not become greater than three minutes. Mission accomplished. One day to go. It wasn’t an easy stage.”

“All in all, it was really good. Last year it was raining and that made it more difficult, so I’ll take this.”

On the crowds today:
“The Rose Bowl had a ton of people on the floor. When we rode in, there was so much noise from the crowd; all of the guys were really motivated by that.”

On tomorrow’s stage:
“Normally the last stage is sort of a parade, but tomorrow will be tough. The team has done a lot of work to get to this point. Most of the favorites were resting for tomorrow, so it’s going to be really tough.”

On the caliber of the Amgen Tour of California:
“I’ve heard journalists and riders this week ranking the Amgen Tour of California as the fourth biggest race in the world, and I can’t disagree. The way it has grown in the past three years is really impressive.”

On his teammate Lance Armstrong:
“As I’ve said throughout the week, having Lance in the race makes everyone perform to the best of their ability. He pushes us all to the limit and it creates a great atmosphere for the team and the race.”

Christian Vande Velde Garmin/Slipstream
Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer™ Most Courageous Rider Jersey Leader
On today’s race:
“Today was the same stage as last year so we knew the stage, but luckily it wasn’t the same weather. It was freezing cold last year, but this year it was beautiful, so we knew it was going to be aggressive. We just wanted to keep someone in the breakaway since we knew it was going to snap at one point.”

“It was a super hard race; it took almost 40 miles until the breakaway was established. It wasn’t fun getting into it, but once we got away, it was good. Then, when we came into the circuits, it was warm and the fans were unbelievable. Frank Schleck came up to me and said he had goose bumps because the crowd was so amazing. It was a neat feeling to race through a throng of fans. It was just like racing in any one of the big tours.”

On the race overall:
“Astana is a strong team, and they are doing good at controlling the race, but you saw a lot of aggressive racing today. Everyone is getting tired, but that’s what’s so great about cycling, nobody is just going to roll over and let them have it. It’s going to be a great race.”

On his loss of critical time on a previous stage:
“I think that was a blessing in disguise. Sometimes I ride above my level and then pay for it for days to come. My form isn’t as high as it has been in the past, but at the same time, the field is so much stronger. The race was harder, the course had more mountains and, unfortunately, the weather was horrible. It has been fun to support Dave (Zabriskie) and Tom (Peterson). Sometimes I’m more comfortable playing the supporting role; it’s natural for me to ride in support of my team. I know that it will come back to me.”

On the Amgen Tour of California:
“Every year they make comparisons, and I don’t think this race has been given the credit it deserves. I personally that it has been world-class from the start in 2006, so I’m sure what is needs to happen for it to become a great race because it already is. If you look at the top-60 general classification, the names that you see, even the guys in the groupetto, it’s amazing. I mean, you have the reining Tour de France champion, Carlos (Sastre) racing here. They take really good care of us in this race. There are great fans and great racing, so I’m not sure what else it can do to become a better race.”

Cervelo TestTeam
Hayden Roulston just missed winning today's 7th stage of Amgen Tour of California where he was out sprinted by Rinaldo Nocentini of AG2R La Mondiale by the width of a tire. Along with Pieter Weening of Rabobank, Roulston dueled it out with Nocentini in the last lap turning the 300 m into a drag race to the finish line.

Cervélo TestTeam Sports Director Alex Sans Vega outlined the strategy the team took, "We knew that there would be a break away today as it happened last year and today's stage is a perfect course for one. Five km after the top of the KOM, the break started to form and we positioned Hayden for the breakaway. The team worked well together to put him into position and it took a couple of tries to do that. Once he got into the group, he caught the wheel of the AG2R guys who we knew would be a problem."

Saxo Bank Report
Fränk Schleck on the Attack and Jason McCartney in Mountain Jersey
Bank's Fränk Schleck took advantage of the hilly stage from Santa Clarita to Pasadena and launched an attack. Schleck worked very hard in the decisive break and with two technically tricky laps to go he split the group and went solo.

Although he managed a small gap he was reeled back in after which a counter attack decided the stage. In this AG2r's Rinaldo Nocentini was fastest and Schleck was came in as number eight.

”Fränk grabbed his chance but the climb on the lap was not tough enough for him to make a difference and make it all the way home. He's clearly strong right now so tomorrow hopefully he'll get another chance,” commented sports director Bradley McGee referring to the mountainous final stage from Rancho Bernado to Escondido.

Fränk Schleck advanced in the overall standings to a 15th place and Jens Voigt is still best for Team Saxo Bank in fourth place. Jason McCartney took over the mountain from Francisco Mancebo (Rock Racing), who unfortunately crashed and had to abandon during stage six.

OUCH P/by Maxxis continues aggressive riding, but can’t get a break.
Just about every rider on the OUCH Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis got in a break during Stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California in Solvang Saturday.

“If there were 10 breaks today,” said team directeur sportif Mike Tamayo, “we covered nine. Unfortunately, the one we didn’t make was the one that stuck. As the saying goes, that’s bike racing."

“We tried early, we tried in the canyon, we just kept trying,” said OUCH Presented by Maxxis rider Pat McCarty. “Cam (Evans) and Tim (Johnson) were both in moves that looked like they would go. Cam made it into one break that looked like it would stick, but then Columbia missed it so they brought it back. It just kept going and re-shuffling.

“It took something like two hours for a break to establish,” he added. “I think we were only about 5 km from the top of the KoM.”

That climb, over the 4,900-foot Millcreek Summit about 38 miles into the 89-mile stage, proved to be decisive in creating the separation. When that move went,” McCarty explained, “I think we were maybe just a bit too gassed and a bit too far back.”

“One of our guys tried to get across to the move, but we were just too late,” Tamayo added.

And as McCarty noted, there was no lack of horsepower in that move, which included George Hincapie, Fränk Schleck, Christian Vande Velde, Hayden Roulston, Pieter Weening, Addy Engels, Martin Elmiger, Markus Zberg, Rinaldo Nocentini and Chris Baldwin.

The group got 1:05 over the summit of Millcreek, and with no threats to the overall lead in the break, Astana was content to ride tempo, allowing the break to extend its lead out beyond four minutes and eventually take it to the line, with Nocenti winning a very close sprint ahead of Roulston.

“We’re pretty bummed we didn’t get anyone up there today,” McCarty said. “It wasn’t for lack of trying. Rory (Sutherland) and I are both a bit frustrated by it. We knew this would be a good day to get in the break because it had a good chance to stick. But that’s how it goes. You win some, you lose a whole lot more.”

Andrew Messick, President, AEG Sports
On the race overall:
“With eight days of exhilarating racing behind us, we are looking forward to watching the finale of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California unfold in San Diego County tomorrow. The world-class field of riders competing for the overall win will make for a very thrilling conclusion to the most important professional cycling race in the United States.”

Michael Ball, Owner, Rock Racking
On Francisco Mancebo’s condition:
“Following his unfortunate crash during today’s stage, Francisco Mancebo is currently receiving medical attention at Huntington Memorial hospital in Pasadena. While we are still awaiting confirmation, we believe he has suffered a concussion, as well as broken hand and elbow. The fact that he is unable to continue the race does not in any way diminish his accomplishments or those of his team. Attrition took its toll and we lost two incredible riders in Paco (Mancebo) today and Victor Hugo Pena, after Stage 4, but that’s bike racing. This is such an exciting team, and I am incredibly proud of everything we have achieved this week.”

Luke Wilson, Actor and Ambassador for Stand Up To Cancer
“I’m in awe of the professional cyclists who are taking part in the Amgen Tour of California. Like in cycling, it takes a team to fight cancer, to raise money and raise awareness of the fact that we can make progress against cancer.”

Two Time Winner Levi Leipheimer Leads into Final Stage
Officials Estimate Race Attendance For First Eight Days to be 1.7 Million
PASADENA (February 21, 2009) Fans in Pasadena came out in droves to witness the finish to Stage 7 of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California, which included five, five-mile laps on a very demanding circuit through the area surrounding the Rose Bowl. After a challenging day of cycling, Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA) of AG2R-La Mondiale crossed the finish line to take the stage, followed closely by Hayden Roulston (NZL) of Cervelo Test Team and Pieter Weening (NED) of Rabobank. Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Astana retained the overall lead heading into the final stage of the race, which will take riders into San Diego County for the first time, as they race from Rancho Bernardo to Escondido tomorrow.

“The Rose Bowl had a ton of people on the floor today,” said Leipheimer. “When we rode in, there was so much noise from the crowd. All of the guys were really motivated by that.”

Hollywood celebrities, including actor Luke Wilson, who is an ambassador for Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer™ initiative and Stand Up To Cancer, came out to support the Los Angeles leg of the race.

“I’m in awe of the professional cyclists who are taking part in the Amgen Tour of California,” said Wilson.

The penultimate day of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California featured the same difficult, hilly and technical terrain that was used in the final day of the 2008 race. The stage opened with a gradual 25-mile climb out of Santa Clarita, through Acton, to the intersection of Angeles Forest Road. Showcasing the breathtaking beauty of the San Gabriel Mountains, the course continued uphill to the massive Millcreek Summit, which at 4,906 ft. is the second-highest elevation ever reached in the race. The riders then headed down a 15-mile trek to Angeles Crest Highway before dropping precipitously to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Surrounded by mountains and the legendary stadium, the field concluded the stage with five challenging laps on a rolling five-mile circuit around the picturesque Rose Bowl.

Stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California began with the launch of several attacks and counter-attacks to try and get a break going. It was a day characterized by very aggressive riding that left 16 riders behind the peloton. An hour and a half into the stage, a successful attack was launched led by Saxo Bank rider Frank Schleck (LUX) and George Hincapie (USA) of Team Columbia-Highroad, along five additional riders, with Astana at the front of the peloton setting the pace for the chase.

As the riders approached the only King of the Mountain (KOM) of the stage Millcreek Summit, team managers were urged to warn their riders about the enormous crowds lining the turns on the descent. A similar warning was issued as the pack headed into the finishing circuits at the Rose Bowl, a testament to the huge crowds that have turned out to watch the race throughout the past eight days.

At 48 miles into the race, three more riders joined the break to make it 10 strong, including Chris Baldwin (USA) of Rock Racing, Pieter Weening (NED) of Rabobank, Addy Engels (NED) of Quick Step, Martin Elmiger (SUI) of AG2R-La Mondiale, Markus Zberg (SUI) of Team BMC, Christian Vande Velde (USA) of Garmin-Slipstream, Schleck, Roulston, Hincapie and Nocentini.

After a series of attacks on the final two laps, Weening, Nocentini and Roulston opened up a gap that proved to be the winning move. The trio dueled to the finish with Nocentini beating out Roulston on the line. Leipheimer retained his overall lead with 36 seconds over David Zabriskie (USA) of Garmin-Slipstream heading in the final stage of the race tomorrow.

“This was a hard stage in the beginning,” added Leipheimer. “There were a lot of attacks with riders dangerous for the overall general classification. It took a while before there was a breakaway with which we could agree.”

Stage 8 of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California will feature a KOM competition up Mount Palomar, the highest point ever reached in the Amgen Tour of California. Floyd Landis (USA) of Ouch Presented by Maxxis trains on the mountain and provided a glimpse into what the riders can expect tomorrow.

“The climb is pretty consistent and it goes from a five or six percent grade to an eight percent grade,” said Landis. “It’s as hard of a climb as you’ll find anywhere, especially at this stage in the race. After a week-long stage race, a lot of guys are tired, so the peloton will probably split up easier.”

Francisco Mancebo (ESP) of Rock Racing who was previously the KOM leader crashed late in the stage and had to abandon due to medical needs.

Stage 7 brought only two changes to the jersey leaders. Vande Velde was awarded Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer™ Most Courageous Rider Jersey. Jason McCartney (USA) of Saxo Bank claimed the California Travel & Tourism Commission King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey. Leipheimer will retain the Amgen Leader Jersey, Mark Cavendish (GBR) of Team Columbia-Highroad the Herbalife Sprint Jersey and Robert Gesink (NED) of Rabobank the Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey.

“With eight days of exhilarating racing behind us, we are looking forward to watching the finale of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California unfold in San Diego County tomorrow,” said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports. “The world-class field of riders competing for the overall win will make for a very thrilling conclusion to the most important professional cycling race in the United States.”

In celebration of the Breakaway from Cancer initiative, and in partnership with Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), Ginnifer Goodwin, Greg Grunberg, Luke Wilson, and SU2C founder and producer Laura Ziskin today attended the Stage 7 finish in Pasadena; Goodwin presented the leader jersey to Leipheimer and Wilson presented Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider Jersey to Vandevelde. Race title sponsor Amgen created the Breakaway from Cancer initiative in 2005 as a complementary component to its sponsorship. The initiative is designed to empower patients by connecting them to education, resources, and hope.

“My own mom is a cancer survivor and I know how much the love and support of her family and friends has meant to her,” said Goodwin from the awards stage. “I thank everyone for coming out to the Amgen Tour of California to be here with all our friends, to ride for life and to stand up to cancer!”

As ambassadors for SU2C, Goodwin, Grunberg, and Wilson attended the event to help raise awareness for the Breakaway from Cancer initiative, which has joined forces with SU2C and the Entertainment Industry Foundation.

“It takes a team to fight cancer, and I’m proud not only of the riders that have dedicated themselves to this race, but also that I’m able to help raise awareness about the resources that are available to cancer patients and their families,” said Grunberg. “The Stand Up To Cancer and Breakaway from Cancer partnership helps rally people around our common goal of educating people that they don’t have to fight cancer alone.”
For the latest information on the Breakaway from Cancer initiative and ways to support those living with the illness, visit

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Sunday, Feb. 22 – Escondido (96.8 mi/155.8 km)
Start Time: Noon PT
Estimated Finish Time: 3:50-4:30 p.m. PT

With the final stage of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California as a difficult point-to-point road race, there is a chance to see an overall lead change, as well as a change in the KOM jersey leader on the last day. With four climbs, including the highest point ever reached in the Amgen Tour of California, and two sprints, Stage 8, sponsored by Amgen, can easily be characterized as the most difficult final stage that the Amgen Tour of California has ever seen. The cyclists will have to fight through the very end of the race, due to the addition of Palomar Mountain (5,123 ft.). At 11.7 miles, a seven percent average grade, 4,200 feet of climbing and 21 switchbacks, Palomar Mountain will provide a challenging conclusion to the 2009 Amgen Tour of California. Organizers expect a hard sprint to the finish; as with all the Grand Tours of Europe, winning the final stage of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California is a prize coveted by the riders.

For full results, archived footage, GPS data, course information, race play-by-play and more, please visit the official race Web site at

(Go do source to get links)

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