Sagan takes Liquigas' winning streak to three

Liquigas-Doimo's Peter Sagan claimed his second consecutive stage win of the Amgen Tour of California, proving himself once again to be the fastest sprinter of the race as well as one of the few men able to stay with the climbers when it matters most. His victory, the third consecutive win for his Italian team, gave Sagan a time bonus that moved him up into third place overall.

After seven classified climbs, 217.7km and many thousands of feet of vertical ascents, Sagan topped UnitedHealtcare-Maxxis' Rory Sutherland and yellow jersey Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) in the literally breathtaking sprint at 7,000 feet.

"I'm very happy - I already had one win, but to add another - I'm really happy," said Sagan, speaking in Italian through a translator. "It's never easy to win, even against climbers. You never take it for granted, but I know I'm pretty fast from a small group."

He pulled himself ahead of Radioshack's Levi Leipheimer on the general classification, but played down his abilities in the test of truth. "My time trial abilities in a longer time trial like this are not quite honed yet. I'll take it day by day and see tomorrow," he said.

His previous four victories in his neo-professional season have surely proven Sagan as a rider not just for the future, but of the present. But the Slovakian said he is still aiming to improve and looking for good performances at the Tour de Suisse next month.

Leipheimer stayed in close contact with his general classification rivals, taking fourth in the sprint from a select group of contenders and their key helpers.

Rogers eked out four seconds over David Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) with the time bonus for third place, and now heads into the Los Angeles time trial with a razor thin edge over two of the world's best time trialists.

"Sagan showed his class by winning two stages including the queen stage," said Rogers. "I saw him there at the top of the last climb and started concentrating on second. A guy that's as fast as him in the finish is always hard to beat.

"The last 800m were pretty tough, it was kind of a headwind and uphill," Rogers said. "After 14,000 of vertical gain on the stage and six hours on the course, I found myself on the front. I didn't want to go too early because if you go too early all it takes is one guy from behind. I kind of waited until 300m and Peter opened his sprint."

Sagan added to his lead in the points classification as well as padding his advantage in the best young rider competition, where he leads over Garmin-Transition's Peter Stetina.

De Maar de man for UnitedHealthcare

Sutherland made the biggest gains on the general classification with his second place finish of the day. His team-mate Marc De Maar sits in sixth after rolling in with the lead group.

But the story of De Maar doesn't end there, as his solo attack in the final 25km put the yellow jersey under pressure. The Pair are the best placed of the Continental riders in the race, and Sutherland indicated it isn't a fluke that he and his team-mate are in such a good position.

"I think just because you've raced domestically doesn't mean you can't do well,” he said. “It's been proven enough if you try and keep trying and you put yourself in a position to do it you will get fantastic opportunities to do well or win stages.

"Our sponsors don't put in as much as the ProTour teams', but it doesn't mean we care any less,” he added. “To be able to get up in there again - although not quite in first place again - is fantastic and bodes well for racing in the US."

Sutherland thanked De Maar for potentially sacrificing his good position to help Sutherland on the finish of the stage. "I'm lucky to have a fantastic team-mate willing to kill himself for 20km knowing he won't make it to the line,” said Sutherland. “He took a lot of stress off me. HTC, Garmin and Radioshack were watching each other and probably forgot Marc was fifth on GC. It gave me a perfect run in - I knew which wheel I had to be on, but I just couldn't come off it."

De Maar, one of the revelations of the race, said he felt good throughout the day and really wanted the stage win. "I wasn't thinking so much about the overall,” he said. “I felt so good on the climb today so I thought that would be a good opportunity to take a stage win here.

"It was a really good day for our team. Rory and I are riding well and both closer in the overall."

Despite the strong performances of the Unitedhealthcare duo, Rogers later said he knew well where De Maar was on general classification and was never threatened by the move. "I put two guys on the front and didn't let it go out too far. That's the big advantage of having a few team-mates there to close the gaps. Teejay and Tony did a great job."

The team also had to match numerous attacks from Radioshack and Garmin-Transitions in the finale, but Rogers was satisfied with how the day turned out. "We had the jersey pretty much under control,” he said. “Garmin threw everything they had at us, Radioshack the same. But we took everything that they threw at us and still have the jersey."

Taming the big bear

The Amgen Tour of California's queen stage to Big Bear Lake turned out to be not so much a test of pure strength for the general classification leaders but one of tactics and team depth. Despite several attacks from the teammates of the top riders on general classification, the favorites themselves bided their time and kept an elite group together to the finish at Big Bear Lake.

Leaving from Palmdale for the 217.7km sixth stage staring straight into the face of seven classified climbs, the overall battle fell first to the teams shut out of the top steps of the leader board. George Hincapie (BMC) and Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) put the yellow jersey of Rogers under threat by slipping into the eight-man move of the day just 29 kilometres into the race.

Team Radioshack protected its general classification position by placing Jason McCartney in the move as a passenger, while Fuglsang had team-mate Andy Schleck in there, not a threat overall at 18:38 minutes back, but certainly keen to look for a stage win if the opportunity came.

Other riders in the move were Matthew Wilson (Garmin-Transitions) as a passenger, Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) and former mountains leader Thomas Rabou (Team Type 1) who was clearly keen to regain the red and yellow top. Joining late was Stef Clement (Rabobank Cycling Team), making a total of eight riders clear for the vast majority of the day.

Rabou was not challenged for the KOM points on the day, and clinched the title by almost taking the maximum 48 points, being denied a single point on the first category 4 ascent by Wilson.

The leaders worked well together, putting Hincapie into the virtual lead after the second mountain sprint 45 kilometres in. Barredo dropped anchor on the long category 2 ascent to Cloudburst summit, making him the first man to leave the lead group. Despite losing the Quick Step man, the lead group's advantage would balloon to a maximum of 6:40 minutes before the halfway point of the stage, heading up the fifth climb to Blue Ridge Summit.

Behind, HTC-Columbia was in full control of the pace making, setting a steady tempo and levelling the leader's gap around six minutes, where it stayed for quite some time.

Schleck took out the first sprint of the day in Wrightwood before the leaders began the long descent to the Cajon Pass, where strong cross winds began to punish the peloton.

The Radioshack team came to the front of the peloton and caused a split on the sixth and penultimate KOM of the day, with a select group of 20 riders and all the main overall contenders leaving the rest of the bunch behind on the steep climb toward Crestline.

Up ahead Schleck took out the second sprint over McCartney and Wilson on the painful uphill dig to the line. Just after the sprint Hincapie attacked his breakaway companion knowing the chase was surging behind, having managed to close the gap down to the four minute mark over the top.

As the final climb took its toll on the leaders, the gap fell below four minutes as the Garmin team started to contribute more to the pace making.

Schleck proved once again the absence of the form we've come to expect from the Luxembourger, as he was dropped from the lead group with 44.8 km remaining. His Saxo Bank team-mate Fuglsang was the next victim of the lead group, after McCartney put in a solid attack that only Hincapie and Wilson could follow.

McCartney's attack came after RadioShack teammates Janez Brajkovic and Chris Horner tried brazen attempts to break up the peloton behind.

The break's margin had shrunk to as little as 1:30 minutes after the unrest in the peloton, however it eased back out to nearly two minutes as the riders approached the 30 km remaining mark.

Brajkovic launched another fierce attack with 28 kilometres remaining, which signaled the start of an aggressive finish to the race. The move was covered by HTC-Columbia duo Tony Martin and Tejay Van Garderen and Tom Danielson while Danielson's Garmin-Transitions team-mates worked to drag the move back.

The surge in pace proved too much for Saxo Bank's Schleck and Fuglsang, with the pair dropped from the peloton as the four attackers were brought back into the fold. Ryder Hesjedal launched a counter attack as Brajkovic's move was caught, which was followed by Horner.

The activity in the peloton damaged the original breakaway's hope of staying away, with the margin to McCartney, Hincapie and Wilson reduced to just 30 seconds with 25 km remaining. A solo attack by UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis' Marc De Maar brought the breakaway's day to an end as the Dutch rider quickly pulled out a 20 second margin.

Garmin was the first to attack the peloton after a short period of recovery allowed De Maar's margin to expand to 50 seconds, making him the race leader on the road. He was joined by Wilson with 15km to go and then the pair worked to hold a 30 second lead heading into the 10km remaining mark.

De Maar's dreams of yellow soon faded, however, as more aggression from behind dragged the chasers closer and closer. The pair were caught just before the entrance to the ski resort area and the one kilometre remaining banner approached.

Sagan was well-positioned behind HTC-Columbia's Martin on the run-in and easily took the sprint. Sutherland racked up a six second time bonus with a well-timed surge for second, while Rogers muscled his way in for third.


Swipe to scroll horizontally
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo6:07:08
2Rory Sutherland (Aus) Unitedhealthcare Presented by MaxxisRow 1 - Cell 2
3Michael Rogers (Aus) Team HTC-ColumbiaRow 2 - Cell 2
4Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioshackRow 3 - Cell 2
5Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-TransitionsRow 4 - Cell 2
6Phil Zajicek (USA) Fly V AustraliaRow 5 - Cell 2
7Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 6 - Cell 2
8David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-TransitionsRow 7 - Cell 2
9Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo BankRow 8 - Cell 2
10Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-TransitionsRow 9 - Cell 2
11Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Team RadioshackRow 10 - Cell 2
12Christopher Horner (USA) Team RadioshackRow 11 - Cell 2
13Marc De Maar (Ned) Unitedhealthcare Presented by MaxxisRow 12 - Cell 2
14Valeriy Kobzarenko (Ukr) Team Type 1Row 13 - Cell 2
15Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 14 - Cell 2
16George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 15 - Cell 2
17Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-TransitionsRow 16 - Cell 2
18Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Quick StepRow 17 - Cell 2
19Christopher Jones (USA) Team Type 1Row 18 - Cell 2
20Thomas Peterson (USA) Garmin-TransitionsRow 19 - Cell 2
21Lucas Euser (USA) SpiderTech Powered by Planet EnergyRow 20 - Cell 2
22Oscar Pujol Munoz (Spa) Cervelo Test Team0:00:32
23Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank Cycling Team0:00:34
24Tejay Van Garderen (USA) Team HTC-Columbia0:01:23
25Tony Martin (Ger) Team HTC-ColumbiaRow 24 - Cell 2
26Jason Mccartney (USA) Team Radioshack0:02:07
27Matthew Wilson (Aus) Garmin-TransitionsRow 26 - Cell 2
28Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo Bank0:14:30
29Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo BankRow 28 - Cell 2
30Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Team Radioshack0:18:47
31Thomas Rabou (Ned) Team Type 10:22:54
32Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team0:28:01
33Chad Beyer (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 32 - Cell 2
34Peter Latham (NZl) BissellRow 33 - Cell 2
35Christopher Butler (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 34 - Cell 2
36Steven Cozza (USA) Garmin-TransitionsRow 35 - Cell 2
37Reid Mumford (USA) Kelly Benefit StrategiesRow 36 - Cell 2
38Charles Dionne (Can) Fly V AustraliaRow 37 - Cell 2
39Maarten Wynants (Bel) Quick StepRow 38 - Cell 2
40Robert Hunter (RSA) Garmin-TransitionsRow 39 - Cell 2
41Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas-DoimoRow 40 - Cell 2
42Jeremy Vennell (NZl) BissellRow 41 - Cell 2
43Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Team HTC-ColumbiaRow 42 - Cell 2
44Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Team RadioshackRow 43 - Cell 2
45Francesco Bellotti (Ita) Liquigas-DoimoRow 44 - Cell 2
46David Boily (Can) SpiderTech Powered by Planet EnergyRow 45 - Cell 2
47Bradley White (USA) Unitedhealthcare Presented by MaxxisRow 46 - Cell 2
48Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Liquigas-DoimoRow 47 - Cell 2
49Scott Zwizanski (USA) Kelly Benefit StrategiesRow 48 - Cell 2
50Christopher Baldwin (USA) Unitedhealthcare Presented by MaxxisRow 49 - Cell 2
51Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 50 - Cell 2
52Simon Zahner (Swi) BMC Racing Team0:30:10
53Andy Jacques-Maynes (USA) BissellRow 52 - Cell 2
54Bert Grabsch (Ger) Team HTC-Columbia0:31:13
55Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Quick StepRow 54 - Cell 2
56Jose Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa) Team RadioshackRow 55 - Cell 2
57Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) BissellRow 56 - Cell 2
58Bernard Van Ulden (USA) Jelly Belly Presented by KendaRow 57 - Cell 2
59Bernard Sulzberger (Aus) Fly V AustraliaRow 58 - Cell 2
60Davide Cimolai (Ita) Liquigas-DoimoRow 59 - Cell 2
61Bruno Langlois (Can) SpiderTech Powered by Planet EnergyRow 60 - Cell 2
62Javier Megias Leal (Spa) Team Type 1Row 61 - Cell 2
63Andrew Randell (Can) SpiderTech Powered by Planet EnergyRow 62 - Cell 2
64Brian Vandborg (Den) Liquigas-DoimoRow 63 - Cell 2
65Michael Friedman (USA) Jelly Belly Presented by KendaRow 64 - Cell 2
66Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Quick StepRow 65 - Cell 2
67Kiel Reijnen (USA) Jelly Belly Presented by KendaRow 66 - Cell 2
68Nikolas Maes (Bel) Quick StepRow 67 - Cell 2
69Robert Britton (Can) BissellRow 68 - Cell 2
70Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 69 - Cell 2
71Paul Mach (USA) BissellRow 70 - Cell 2
72Davide Frattini (Ita) Team Type 1Row 71 - Cell 2
73Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo BankRow 72 - Cell 2
74Jeremy Powers (USA) Jelly Belly Presented by KendaRow 73 - Cell 2
75Brett Lancaster (Aus) Cervelo Test TeamRow 74 - Cell 2
76Max Jenkins (USA) Unitedhealthcare Presented by MaxxisRow 75 - Cell 2
77Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo BankRow 76 - Cell 2
78Dominique Rollin (Can) Cervelo Test TeamRow 77 - Cell 2
79Darren Lill (RSA) Fly V AustraliaRow 78 - Cell 2
80Thomas Leezer (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 79 - Cell 2
81Philip Deignan (Irl) Cervelo Test TeamRow 80 - Cell 2
82Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Cervelo Test TeamRow 81 - Cell 2
83Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team HTC-ColumbiaRow 82 - Cell 2
84Alexander Kristoff (Nor) BMC Racing TeamRow 83 - Cell 2
85Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing TeamRow 84 - Cell 2
86Andreas Stauff (Ger) Quick StepRow 85 - Cell 2
HDMark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC-ColumbiaRow 86 - Cell 2
HDAaron Kemps (Aus) Fly V AustraliaRow 87 - Cell 2
HDKurt Hovelynck (Bel) Quick StepRow 88 - Cell 2
HDMark Renshaw (Aus) Team HTC-ColumbiaRow 89 - Cell 2
HDRyan Anderson (Can) Kelly Benefit StrategiesRow 90 - Cell 2
HDWill Routley (Can) Jelly Belly Presented by KendaRow 91 - Cell 2
HDMatthew Crane (USA) Unitedhealthcare Presented by MaxxisRow 92 - Cell 2
HDCody O'reilly (USA) BissellRow 93 - Cell 2
HDJonathan Cantwell (Aus) Fly V AustraliaRow 94 - Cell 2
HDDennis Van Winden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 95 - Cell 2
HDZachary Bell (Can) Kelly Benefit StrategiesRow 96 - Cell 2
DNFWilliam Dickeson (Aus) Jelly Belly Presented by KendaRow 97 - Cell 2
DNFKen Hanson (USA) Team Type 1Row 98 - Cell 2
DNFFrancesco Chicchi (Ita) Liquigas-DoimoRow 99 - Cell 2
DNFGuillaume Boivin (Can) SpiderTech Powered by Planet EnergyRow 100 - Cell 2
DNFAlex Candelario (USA) Kelly Benefit StrategiesRow 101 - Cell 2
DNFEric Boily (Can) SpiderTech Powered by Planet EnergyRow 102 - Cell 2
DNFFrancois Parisien (Can) SpiderTech Powered by Planet EnergyRow 103 - Cell 2
DNFMartin Gilbert (Can) SpiderTech Powered by Planet EnergyRow 104 - Cell 2
DNFDavid Veilleux (Can) Kelly Benefit StrategiesRow 105 - Cell 2
DNFBenjamin Day (Aus) Fly V AustraliaRow 106 - Cell 2
DNFKarl Menzies (Aus) Unitedhealthcare Presented by MaxxisRow 107 - Cell 2
DNFTheo Bos (Ned) Cervelo Test TeamRow 108 - Cell 2
DNFJackson Stewart (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 109 - Cell 2
DNFElia Viviani (Ita) Liquigas-DoimoRow 110 - Cell 2
DNFStef Clement (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 111 - Cell 2
DNFJuan Jose Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo BankRow 112 - Cell 2
DNFTom Boonen (Bel) Quick StepRow 113 - Cell 2
DNSNeil Shirley (USA) Kelly Benefit StrategiesRow 114 - Cell 2
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Sprint 1 - Wrightwood, CA
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank5pts
2Thomas Rabou (Ned) Team Type 13Row 1 - Cell 3
3George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team1Row 2 - Cell 3
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Sprint 2 - Crestline, CA
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank5pts
2Jason Mccartney (USA) Team Radioshack3Row 1 - Cell 3
3Matthew Wilson (Aus) Garmin-Transitions1Row 2 - Cell 3
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Sprint 3 - Finish
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo15pts
2Rory Sutherland (Aus) Unitedhealthcare Presented by Maxxis12Row 1 - Cell 3
3Michael Rogers (Aus) Team HTC-Columbia10Row 2 - Cell 3
4Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Radioshack7Row 3 - Cell 3
5Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions6Row 4 - Cell 3
6Phil Zajicek (USA) Fly V Australia5Row 5 - Cell 3
7Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank Cycling Team4Row 6 - Cell 3
8David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Transitions3Row 7 - Cell 3
9Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank2Row 8 - Cell 3
10Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Transitions1Row 9 - Cell 3
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Mountains 1 - Mill Creek Summit
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Matthew Wilson (Aus) Garmin-Transitions4pts
2Thomas Rabou (Ned) Team Type 13Row 1 - Cell 3
3Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank2Row 2 - Cell 3
4Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo Bank1Row 3 - Cell 3
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Mountains 2 - CA 2
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Thomas Rabou (Ned) Team Type 16pts
2Jason Mccartney (USA) Team Radioshack5Row 1 - Cell 3
3Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team4Row 2 - Cell 3
4George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team3Row 3 - Cell 3
5Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank1Row 4 - Cell 3
Swipe to scroll horizontally