Henderson brings Team Sky its second victory in California

Greg Henderson (Team Sky) sprinted to a win at the end of the Amgen Tour of California's 196.2km stage 3 from Auburn to Modesto on Tuesday. Juan José Haedo (Saxo Bank Sungard) finished second ahead of world champion Thor Hushovd (Team Garmin-Cervélo).

Team Sky lined up at the front of the race in the final kilometers with the goal of looking after overall race leader Ben Swift and setting up for the sprint finish. Swift's path was blocked near the line, but Henderson was in position to push for the win.

"We defended the jersey honourably," a surprised but pleased Henderson said following the win. "We put two guys up front to chase all day. We tried to set up the finish for Ben Swift, but there was a bit of a mix up with 1km to go and I didn't know about it. I opened up my sprint with 500m to go expecting him to come around - I'm just lucky enough to have had the legs to last to the line."

Several crashes marred the final kilometers, which were run on dry roads on a circuit through Modesto. At seven kilometers to go, the slick paint of a crosswalk took down Jens Voigt of Leopard-Trek and one of the favourites for the win today, Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad). Baden Cooke of Saxo Bank also went down in a crash just before the Red Kite. Michael Matthews fell too and continued Rabobank's run of bad luck at the Tour of California.

Henderson and Swift are tied on time, but Henderson takes over as race leader from his teammate. Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) is in third overall.

"Now we can relax a bit that we're two for two," explained Henderson. "Tomorrow is a difficult day and I have no illusions of defending the jersey - there is no way I can climb with the likes of Levi Leipheimer and Dave Zabriskie.

"I'm really happy that our team has been able to dominate in the first two stages, and now we will switch our focus to helping Chris Froome who is our climber."

Jan Bárta of Team NetApp spent the day in the early breakaway and won two of the three intermediate sprints. On the third sprint in Oakdale, Bárta attacked and only Andy Jaques-Maynes of Team Bissell could follow. "The worst was the wind it took all my strength, the rain wasn't that cold, but it was always a headwind and that was tough," said Bárta of his long day out. "At the end everyone gets tired and can't really help, so it was a long stage. They didn't have enough strength anymore to stay away." Bárta made the most of his chances and won a $1000 prime at the first sprint in Folsom and a basket of local goodies from Oakdale.

How the race unfolded

The Amgen Tour of California returned to its regularly scheduled program today with this stage running through California's Central Valley from Auburn to Modesto. Starting slightly behind schedule, the bunch rolled out under unsettled skies. Intermittent rain and flag-straightening wind out of the south guaranteed a long day in the saddle despite the relatively flat course profile. The field faced a solid headwind for much of the day, though the final 50 kilometers included several sections where the course turned parallel to the wind and offered the opportunity for a strong team to put the race in the gutter.

The expected early breakaway quickly formed following the neutral circuit through the streets of Auburn. Local residents dressed in frontier-themed costumes waved the race on its way. Seven riders comprised the break: Christian Meier (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling), Jan Bárta (Team NetApp), Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Cycling), William Dickeson (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Phillip Gaimon (Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder), James Driscoll (Jamis-Sutter Home), Mike Creed (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth).

At the first Herbalife sprint line in Folsom, Bárta took the honors and the 3 second time bonus, followed by Gaimon and Andy Jacques-Maynes. After 60 kilometers of racing, the break held an advantage of 6:40, and for a time, the situation stabilized. A second Herbalife sprint line popped up in Ione, and Bárta again took the honors and picked up an additional 3 seconds. Christian Meier (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) took second for 2 seconds, and Jacques-Maynes crossed the line third. There remained 115.8 kilometers to race.

The gap between the leading seven riders and the field began to drop as Sky, Garmin-Cervélo, HTC-Highroad, and Team RadioShack began to work with more seriousness on the front. "It was a long day, because we had a headwind for the majority of the day. Big thanks to the guys who rode the front all day and helped chase down the breakaway. It's a lot of hard work for them," commented stage winner Greg Henderson after the stage. Team Sky had at least two riders on the front all day.

With 75 kilometers to race, the gap stood at 4:05, and soon a pair of crashes interrupted the smoothly unfolding stage. Matt Busche of Team RadioShack found landed in a roadside ditch, but was quickly back up and riding. Then Jesus Del Nero Montes of Team NetApp crossed wheels or slipped on the paint of the yellow centerline as the field crossed a concrete bridge. After the heavy crash, Del Nero proved slow to remount the bike, but soon began the slow trip back to the field.

Seven riders had ridden much of the day off the front, but just outside 73 kilometers to go, Gaimon slid off the back of the break. The Kenda/5-Hour Energy rider fought desperately to rejoin the front group, but inexorably, they rode away from him. The gap between the leading six and the field, meanwhile, continued to fall.

As the race crossed the county line into Stanislaus County, the road turned west and the riders at the front began to echelon. With the wind blowing across their left shoulders, the field spread across the road, offering a hint of possible chaos to come. The road soon straightened. Passing the Woodward Reservoir, rolling grain fields interspersed with orchards framed the road. A solitary horse pranced in the distance, and the combined efforts of Sky, HTC-Highroad, and Liquigas-Cannondale had brought the gap down to 2:45.

At the third intermediate sprint in Oakdale, Bartá attacked the break. Andy Jacques-Maynes proved quick to follow, and the two riders pushed on into the headwind together. The remaining four riders returned to the field. "I've had more fun days. It was a pretty tough day to be in the break. Christian [Meier] and Andy [Jacques-Maynes] were a bit stronger and we were pulling through as much as we could. It was a block headwind all day and you always know that the chances of staying away are pretty slim. I'll get into it tomorrow again and see what happens," said Will Dickenson (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) of his long day out.

With 22 kilometers to go, the gap stood at 1:15 and the front of the bunch spread out from left to right across the road. Team Sky did the work on the front in support of Yellow Jersey Ben Swift. A few riders began to slide off the back under pressure from the increased pace and the wind. Only Bárta and Jacques-Maynes remained out in front, while behind them, Rabobank and BMC joined the chase. At the 20 kilometers to go mark, the two riders dangled just 30 seconds ahead.

Now the wind blew across the road and many riders began to drop off the back as a series of echelons formed. At 19 kilometers to go, just Bárta remained out in front, but not for long. Team Sky went to the front and smashed it, blowing the bunch to bits, at least temporarily. Thor Hushovd of Garmin-Cervélo was among the riders to miss the split. Andy Schleck of Leopard-Trek also missed the split.

As the road turned back into the headwind, the Hushovd-Schleck group proved able to rejoin the front group, but the hard riding must surely have left a mark. By 16 kilometers to go, the field had mostly reformed. Race leader Ben Swift remained safely tucked in behind his team-mates at the front of the field.

With 14 kilometers to go and the circuits rapidly approaching, HTC-Highroad and Liquigas-Cannondale came to the front in the hope of setting up their sprinters and preventing any cheeky last-minute attacks. With 8 kilometers to go, the bunch passed over the finish line for the first time.

Just two laps on the finishing circuit at Auburn remained. SpiderTech took over the front in the hope of setting up their sprinter Keven Lacombe, who finished fourth yesterday after a strong sprint. Not long after the field entered the finishing circuit, a crash took down Andreas Schillinger of Team NetApp and Jens Voigt of Leopard-Trek. Voigt soon remounted his bike and began the slow ride to the finish.

Chris Horner of RadioShack also suffered a misadventure in the finishing circuits. "It was squeezing in tight and [Peter] Sagan totally pushed me over. It was a stupid mistake and we almost crashed. It took the spokes out of my back wheel. It wouldn't rotate. I tried with Markel Irizar and Ben [King] waited for me and he took me to the front. The bike fit wasn't that great but we got the job done, it was fantastic and everyone worked great." Horner finished safely in the field and did not lose any time on the general classification.

Up front, SpiderTech meanwhile still rode hard on the front with Team Sky sitting just behind them. As the riders jostled for position, their wheels ricocheted off the bots dots on the the road. With 4.5 kilometers to go, Saxo Bank began moving up for Juan José and Sebastian Haedo. With 4 kilometers to go, Saxo Bank had four riders on the front, but Team Sky soon showed how they won yesterday's stage and began moving up on the right-hand side.

With 3 kilometers to go, Team Sky had the race mostly in hand. Hoping to set-up three-time World Champion Oscar Freire, Rabobank also lurked near the front, but did not provide any real challenge to Team Sky. Just outside the red kite, Team Sky still held their position on the front. "Everyone had relatively fresh legs because it was so easy in the peloton behind the guys pulling, so the last 10km was just chaotic. There was lots of fighting at the front and changes of direction. I can't thank Matt Hayman, Ian Stannard and Jeremy Hunt enough for keeping us out of trouble and getting us to the last corner," said Henderson later.

As the field passed under the 1 kilometer to go banner, Freire moved up the field, while current World Champion Thor Hushovd sat in second wheel behind Greg Henderson of Team Sky. As the sprint began, Freire went backwards nearly as quickly as Henderson hurtled forward.

The New Zealander started his sprint from the front, and Henderson never looked back. He won the stage with a bike length to spare. "I've never sprinted 500 meters to victory before. Normally sprinters do the last 150 or 200, but to win from there shows I'm in great condition," commented Henderson of his long sprint to the line. Hushovd tried to follow, but ultimately slipped back to third as Juan José Haedo came around on his right. Peter Sagan finished fourth with Leigh Howard of HTC-Highroad rounding out the top five.

In the general classification, Greg Henderson now leads his team-mate Ben Swift. Peter Sagan is third at four seconds, and fourth-placed rider Juan José Haedo is also at four seconds. The sprinters dominate the general classification for now, but tomorrow's stage finish on Sierra Road will certainly change all that.



Correction to the Live Report

Cyclingnews reported earlier that there was a crash involving team cars in the early stages of the race. Parts of that report were incorrect and we have received information firsthand from the concerned parties regarding what happened.

From the people in the car:

“The Team Radio Shack lightly rear ended the BMC Racing Team car. There is no visible damage on either vehicle. No air bags deployed. And contrary to what have might have been reported, the BMC Racing Team did not hit the car in front of it.”

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Full Results
1Greg Henderson (NZl) Sky Procycling5:14:29
2Juan José Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank SungardRow 1 - Cell 2
3Thor Hushovd (Nor) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 2 - Cell 2
4Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 3 - Cell 2
5Leigh Howard (Aus) HTC-HighroadRow 4 - Cell 2
6Kevin Lacombe (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10Row 5 - Cell 2
7Robert Förster (Ger) UnitedHealthcare Pro CyclingRow 6 - Cell 2
8Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 7 - Cell 2
9Jure Kocjan (Slo) Team Type 1 - Sanofi AventisRow 8 - Cell 2
10Alexander Candelario (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - OptumHealthRow 9 - Cell 2
11Ben Swift (GBr) Sky ProcyclingRow 10 - Cell 2
12Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 11 - Cell 2
13Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 12 - Cell 2
14Andrew Pinfold (Can) UnitedHealthcare Pro CyclingRow 13 - Cell 2
15Ken Hanson (USA) Jelly Belly p/b KendaRow 14 - Cell 2
16Aldo Ino Ilesic (Slo) Team Type 1 - Sanofi AventisRow 15 - Cell 2
17George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 16 - Cell 2
18Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 17 - Cell 2
19Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-HighroadRow 18 - Cell 2
20Frank Kevin Pipp (USA) Bissell CyclingRow 19 - Cell 2
21Andrew Talansky (USA) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 20 - Cell 2
22Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 21 - Cell 2
23Shawn Milne (USA) Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by GeargrinderRow 22 - Cell 2
24Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioShackRow 23 - Cell 2
25Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Leopard TrekRow 24 - Cell 2
26Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 25 - Cell 2
27Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 26 - Cell 2
28Christopher Horner (USA) Team RadioShackRow 27 - Cell 2
29Danny Pate (USA) HTC-HighroadRow 28 - Cell 2
30Jesse Anthony (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - OptumHealthRow 29 - Cell 2
31Jeremy Vennell (NZl) Bissell CyclingRow 30 - Cell 2
32Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky ProcyclingRow 31 - Cell 2
33Tyler Wren (USA) Jamis - Sutter HomeRow 32 - Cell 2
34Alejandro Alberto Borrajo (Arg) Jamis - Sutter HomeRow 33 - Cell 2
35Laszlo Bodrogi (Fra) Team Type 1 - Sanofi AventisRow 34 - Cell 2
36Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) Bissell CyclingRow 35 - Cell 2
37Martin Gilbert (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10Row 36 - Cell 2
38Gustav Larsson (Swe) Saxo Bank SungardRow 37 - Cell 2
39Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 38 - Cell 2
40Michael Friedman (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - OptumHealthRow 39 - Cell 2
41Peter Velits (Svk) HTC-HighroadRow 40 - Cell 2
42Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing TeamRow 41 - Cell 2
43Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard TrekRow 42 - Cell 2
44Reid Mumford (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - OptumHealthRow 43 - Cell 2
45Daniel Martin (Irl) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 44 - Cell 2
46Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 45 - Cell 2
47Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 46 - Cell 2
48Luis Romero Amaran (Cub) Jamis - Sutter HomeRow 47 - Cell 2
49Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 48 - Cell 2
50Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard TrekRow 49 - Cell 2
51Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 50 - Cell 2
52Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro CyclingRow 51 - Cell 2
53Coen Vermeltfoort (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 52 - Cell 2
54Jason Donald (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - OptumHealthRow 53 - Cell 2
55Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 54 - Cell 2
56Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Team Type 1 - Sanofi AventisRow 55 - Cell 2
57Ben King (USA) Team RadioShackRow 56 - Cell 2
58James Stemper (USA) Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by GeargrinderRow 57 - Cell 2
59Alexander Efimkin (Rus) Team Type 1 - Sanofi AventisRow 58 - Cell 2
60Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team NetAppRow 59 - Cell 2
61Leopold Konig (Cze) Team NetAppRow 60 - Cell 2
62Benjamin Day (Ita) Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by GeargrinderRow 61 - Cell 2
63Lucas Euser (USA) Team Spidertech Powered By C10Row 62 - Cell 2
64Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro CyclingRow 63 - Cell 2
65Valeriy Kobzarenko (Ukr) Team Type 1 - Sanofi AventisRow 64 - Cell 2
66Yannick Eijssen (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 65 - Cell 2
67Jonathan Patrick McCarty (USA) Team Spidertech Powered By C10Row 66 - Cell 2
68Cameron Wurf (Aus) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 67 - Cell 2
69Andreas Dietziker (Swi) Team NetAppRow 68 - Cell 2
70Edward King (USA) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 69 - Cell 2
71Charles Wegelius (GBr) UnitedHealthcare Pro CyclingRow 70 - Cell 2
72David Zabriskie (USA) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 71 - Cell 2
73Martin Pedersen (Den) Leopard TrekRow 72 - Cell 2
74Anibal Andres Borrajo (Arg) Jamis - Sutter HomeRow 73 - Cell 2
75Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Team RadioShackRow 74 - Cell 2
76Andy Guptill (USA) Jamis - Sutter HomeRow 75 - Cell 2
77Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell CyclingRow 76 - Cell 2
78Stefan Denifl (Aut) Leopard TrekRow 77 - Cell 2
79Bradley White (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro CyclingRow 78 - Cell 2
80Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 79 - Cell 2
81Brian Vandborg (Den) Saxo Bank SungardRow 80 - Cell 2
82Zachary Bell (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10Row 81 - Cell 2
83Francesco Bellotti (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 82 - Cell 2
84Christopher Baldwin (USA) Bissell CyclingRow 83 - Cell 2
85Nick Nuyens (Bel) Saxo Bank SungardRow 84 - Cell 2
86Chad Hartley (USA) Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by GeargrinderRow 85 - Cell 2
87Timon Seubert (Ger) Team NetAppRow 86 - Cell 2
88Luca Damiani (Ita) Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by GeargrinderRow 87 - Cell 2
89Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky ProcyclingRow 88 - Cell 2
90Anders Lund (Den) Leopard TrekRow 89 - Cell 2
91Karl Menzies (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro CyclingRow 90 - Cell 2
92Jeffry Louder (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 91 - Cell 2
93Jacob Rytlewski (USA) Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by GeargrinderRow 92 - Cell 2
94Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 93 - Cell 2
95Sergio Hernandez (USA) Jelly Belly p/b KendaRow 94 - Cell 2
96Rob Britton (Can) Bissell CyclingRow 95 - Cell 2
97Bernard Van Ulden (USA) Jelly Belly p/b KendaRow 96 - Cell 2
98Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Team RadioShackRow 97 - Cell 2
99Dan Bowman (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - OptumHealthRow 98 - Cell 2
100Paul Mach (USA) Bissell CyclingRow 99 - Cell 2
101Timothy Roe (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 100 - Cell 2
102Martin Mortensen (Den) Leopard TrekRow 101 - Cell 2
103Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky ProcyclingRow 102 - Cell 2
104Jeremy Powers (USA) Jelly Belly p/b KendaRow 103 - Cell 2
105Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Team RadioShackRow 104 - Cell 2
106Tom Zirbel (USA) Jamis - Sutter HomeRow 105 - Cell 2
107Svein Tuft (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10Row 106 - Cell 2
108Matthew Busche (USA) Team RadioShackRow 107 - Cell 2
109Alastair Loutit (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b KendaRow 108 - Cell 2
110Roman Kilun (USA) Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by GeargrinderRow 109 - Cell 2
111Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Sky ProcyclingRow 110 - Cell 2
112Timothy Duggan (USA) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 111 - Cell 2
113Jose Fernando Antogna (Arg) Jamis - Sutter Home0:00:20
114Christian Meier (Can) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling0:00:30
115Ryan Anderson (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10Row 114 - Cell 2
116Andrew Bajadali (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - OptumHealthRow 115 - Cell 2
117Bert Grabsch (Ger) HTC-HighroadRow 116 - Cell 2
118Will Routley (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10Row 117 - Cell 2
119Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team0:00:36
120Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard0:00:43
121Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank SungardRow 120 - Cell 2
122Baden Cooke (Aus) Saxo Bank SungardRow 121 - Cell 2
123Martin Velits (Svk) HTC-Highroad0:01:22
124Bernhard Eisel (Aut) HTC-HighroadRow 123 - Cell 2
125Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) HTC-HighroadRow 124 - Cell 2
126Jan Barta (Cze) Team NetApp0:02:08
127Andy Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell CyclingRow 126 - Cell 2
128Alex Dowsett (GBr) Sky Procycling0:02:18
129Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 128 - Cell 2
130Alexander Gottfried (Ger) Team NetApp0:03:53
131Michael Creed (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - OptumHealth0:04:02
132Jens Voigt (Ger) Leopard Trek0:04:37
133Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Team NetApp0:05:53
134William Dugan (USA) Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis0:06:41
135Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Sky Procycling0:09:15
136Jason McCartney (USA) Team RadioShackRow 135 - Cell 2
137Nic Hamilton (Can) Jelly Belly p/b KendaRow 136 - Cell 2
138Rafal Majka (Pol) Saxo Bank SungardRow 137 - Cell 2
139Phillip Gaimon (USA) Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by GeargrinderRow 138 - Cell 2
140Jesús Del Nero Montes (Spa) Team NetAppRow 139 - Cell 2
141Javier Megias Leal (Spa) Team Type 1 - Sanofi AventisRow 140 - Cell 2
142James Driscoll (USA) Jamis - Sutter HomeRow 141 - Cell 2
143Alex Hagman (USA) Jelly Belly p/b KendaRow 142 - Cell 2
144William Dickeson (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b KendaRow 143 - Cell 2
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Sprint 1 - Folsom, 28.4km
1Jan Barta (Cze) Team NetApp5pts
2Phillip Gaimon (USA) Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder3Row 1 - Cell 3
3Andy Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Cycling1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Sprint 2 - Ione, 80.4km
1Jan Barta (Cze) Team NetApp5pts
2Christian Meier (Can) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling3Row 1 - Cell 3
3Andy Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Cycling1Row 2 - Cell 3
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