Tour of California: Sylvain Georges roars into Big Bear Lake

Sylvain Georges (AG2R La Mondiale) soloed to an incredible win on stage 6 of the Amgen Tour of California, finishing alone at Big Bear Lake. Remarkably, the team had gone winless until earlier in the day Sebastian Hinault claimed the Circuit de Lorraine, but Georges doubled their tally through his heroic performance.

Georges was the last man into a seven man breakaway that went from the gun and then the last man standing at the final classified climb with 48km still to race.

The Frenchman held a five minute lead on the group of race leader David Zabriskie when he left his companions behind, and despite a concerted chase from Garmin-Barracuda, Liquigas-Cannondale and then Radioshack-Nissan and a long, hot and high road ahead, Georges still had plenty of time to celebrate the biggest victory of his career at Big Bear Lake by just 28 seconds.

Stage 1 through 4 winner Peter Sagan finished second with Peter Velits coming home in third and picking up four seconds in the fight for the overall. Race leader Dave Zabriskie retained his overall advantage.

"The most difficult thing about the final kilometers was in my head," Georges said. "I hurt everywhere, I was starting to go cross-eyed and getting cramps, but I was able to focus and fight through it. It was the hardest 15km of my life."

The team knew of Hinault's victory in the morning and the entire team and staff were extra motivated to do something special on the 1863km stage. "Sebastian Hinault is a leader of the team and I take advice from him often, so to win on the same day as him makes it extra special for me and the team."

Going solo wasn't exactly the plan for Georges, but on the approach to the final climb mountains classification leader Sebastian Salas told him that he didn't have the legs to continue, but the prospect of riding solo for more than an hour was not daunting to the 28-year-old.

"I had the legs, I knew I had the legs, and it was all or nothing until the finish."

Although he was on his own on the road, Georges said the encouragement from his team director along the way kept him going. "I wasn't alone, knowing my family is back home watching and knowing how badly AG2R needed this win, I kept this in my head and I was able to hold on and finish it off."

Zabriskie said the second half of the stage was the most difficult part, and even though the team went hard on the steepest part of the climb, Sagan survived and, thinking it might come down to a sprint, sent his team to the front to help chase. "The AG2R guy did an amazing ride," Zabriskie said. "He pulled that off, and Sagan didn't get the field sprint. It was kind of touch and go there, but when we came up to the lake a lot of teams came up and started to help, and we brought the gap down pretty decently.

"I think they kinda hesitated and were like 'aw, this isn't going to work'," Zabriskie said of Liquigas, "And then when all the other teams started to help they jumped back in, but it was too late. [Georges] did an amazing ride.

Garmin-Barracuda manager Jonathan Vaughters was pleased with his team's performance, but indicated that without race radios, relying on race marshals for information was not always reliable.

"There was a little lack of information out there, which was a little disconcerting at times, but, whatever, the guys made up for it with strength," Vaughters said. "The problem is the guys were not getting accurate information from the on chalkboards, which is a pity, but you know it's a symptom of the regulation that bans race radio communications. Obviously a silly regulation. We wouldn't have won. It's great that [Georges] won the stage."

Up, up and away

The Golden State again came through with stellar weather for the Amgen Tour of California, although gusty winds buffeted the riders at the start of stage 6 in Palmdale. Once they were into the hills of the Angeles National Forest, however, they were provided a little shelter from the breeze.

The attacks flew right from the gun, and immediately a seven-rider group was established: Mountains classification leader Sebastian Salas and his teammate Andrew Bajadali (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) were sure to follow David Boily (Spidertech-C10) into the move along with Yukihiro Doi (Argos-Shimano) and Sylvain Georges (AG2R La Mondiale), whose teams have been shut out of the honours so far this Tour. Also in the break was Gregory Rast (RadioShack-Nissan) and the most aggressive rider of the Tour so far, Jeremy Vennell (Bissell Cycling).

At the first mountain sprint just 22km into the stage, Boily got the measure of Salas on the category 4 ascent, and then the seven leaders got straight to work building up a maximum advantage of eight minutes.

Along the route, four riders abandoned the race, with Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) being the least surprising withdrawal. The big German sprinter has struggled in the mountains and expressed his fear of today's massive climbs before the start. Also pulling out was Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank), Pat McCarty (Spidertech powered by C10) and Juan Pablo Suarez (Colombia-Coldeportes).

The battle for the polka dot jersey heated up on the day's biggest climb, the category 1 ascent to Wrightwood, where Salas attacked and his teammate Bajadali was able to get in front of Boily for second place, allowing Salas more of a buffer in the classification.

The Garmin-Barracuda chase halved the leaders' gap by the time they reached the third climb and Bajadali gave up on the escape. A few kilometers later Doi and Vennell also dropped off the lead group, and by 1km to the top, Boily and Rast had also lost contact. Salas powered on ahead with only Georges as his companion.

Georges allowed Salas to claim the maximum points on the category 3 climb on CA 18, but soon after the crest the young Canadian decided to leave his French companion on his own and go back to the chasing group which included Rast, Doi and Vennell.

With 30km to go, Georges enjoyed a five minute lead on the peloton, while Doi and Salas were soon to return to the peloton as the long gradual ascent to Big Bear ground along. Rast and Vennell continued their chase, but an attack from Orica-GreenEdge's Pieter Weening sped up the peloton and ate into their advantage.

Georges pushed on ahead, undaunted by the quality of the chase and perhaps inspired by his teammate Sebastian Hinault, who scored the team's first win of the year in the Circuit de Lorraine today.

Behind, another attack came from the peloton from Wilco Kelderman (Rabobank) with 23km to go, and soon he, Vennell and Weening came together and put up a concerted chase to Georges, while Rast went back to the peloton to help his RadioShack-Nissan team.

The Weening-led counter attack was reeled in with less then 4 kilometers to go and while the diminished peloton had Georges in sight inside the final kilometer, the Frenchman had enough of a buffer to celebrate his solo victory in Big Bear Lake.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sylvain Georges (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale5:07:06
2Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale0:00:28
3Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 2 - Cell 2
4Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Argos - ShimanoRow 3 - Cell 2
5Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Argos - ShimanoRow 4 - Cell 2
6Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 5 - Cell 2
7Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 6 - Cell 2
8Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-NissanRow 7 - Cell 2
9Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 8 - Cell 2
10Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 9 - Cell 2
11Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin - BarracudaRow 10 - Cell 2
12Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - BarracudaRow 11 - Cell 2
13Benjamin King (USA) RadioShack-NissanRow 12 - Cell 2
14Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 13 - Cell 2
15Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 14 - Cell 2
16Marc De Maar (AHo) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling TeamRow 15 - Cell 2
17George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 16 - Cell 2
18Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-NissanRow 17 - Cell 2
19Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 18 - Cell 2
20Christopher Baldwin (USA) Bissell CyclingRow 19 - Cell 2
21David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - BarracudaRow 20 - Cell 2
22Lawson Craddock (USA) Bontrager Livestrong TeamRow 21 - Cell 2
23Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 22 - Cell 2
24Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 23 - Cell 2
25Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 24 - Cell 2
26Joseph Dombrowski (USA) Bontrager Livestrong TeamRow 25 - Cell 2
27Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-NissanRow 26 - Cell 2
28Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling TeamRow 27 - Cell 2
29Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia - ColdeportesRow 28 - Cell 2
30Raymond Kunzli (Swi) Spidertech Powered By C10Row 29 - Cell 2
31George Bennett (NZl) RadioShack-NissanRow 30 - Cell 2
32Alexander Candelario (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit StrategiesRow 31 - Cell 2
33Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 32 - Cell 2
34Fred Rodriguez (USA) Team ExergyRow 33 - Cell 2
35Ian Boswell (USA) Bontrager Livestrong TeamRow 34 - Cell 2
36Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack-NissanRow 35 - Cell 2
37Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 36 - Cell 2
38Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) Colombia - ColdeportesRow 37 - Cell 2
39Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 38 - Cell 2
40Thomas Peterson (USA) Garmin - BarracudaRow 39 - Cell 2
41Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 40 - Cell 2
42Brian Vandborg (Den) Spidertech Powered By C100:00:42
43Michael Rodriguez Galindo (Col) Colombia - Coldeportes0:00:51
44Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank Cycling Team0:01:00
45Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 44 - Cell 2
46Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La MondialeRow 45 - Cell 2
47Matt Cooke (USA) Team ExergyRow 46 - Cell 2
48Michael Creed (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit StrategiesRow 47 - Cell 2
49Lucas Euser (USA) Spidertech Powered By C100:01:09
50Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Cycling0:01:14
51Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team0:01:18
52Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin - Barracuda0:01:20
53Gavin Mannion (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team0:01:30
54Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale0:01:33
55Philip Deignan (Irl) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling TeamRow 54 - Cell 2
56Timothy Duggan (USA) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 55 - Cell 2
57Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 56 - Cell 2
58Jeffry Louder (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling TeamRow 57 - Cell 2
59Alexandre Geniez (Fra) Argos - Shimano0:01:40
60Alex Howes (USA) Garmin - Barracuda0:01:45
61Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan0:02:06
62Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale0:03:23
63Jeremy Vennell (NZl) Bissell Cycling0:03:39
64Andrés Díaz Corrales (Col) Team Exergy0:04:16
65Sébastian Salas (Can) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies0:04:41
66Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan0:07:37
67Andrew Bajadali (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies0:15:38
68Yukihiro Doi (Jpn) Argos - ShimanoRow 67 - Cell 2
69Yannick Eijssen (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:16:08
70David Boily (Can) Spidertech Powered By C100:16:15
71Morgan Schmitt (USA) Team Exergy0:25:38
72Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling TeamRow 71 - Cell 2
73Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Bontrager Livestrong Team0:30:12
74Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 73 - Cell 2
75Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 74 - Cell 2
76Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 75 - Cell 2
77Victor Hugo Pena Grisales (Col) Colombia - ColdeportesRow 76 - Cell 2
78Edward King (USA) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 77 - Cell 2
79Frank Pipp (USA) Bissell CyclingRow 78 - Cell 2
80Wilson Alexander Marentes Torres (Col) Colombia - ColdeportesRow 79 - Cell 2
81Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 80 - Cell 2
82Carlos Julian Quintero (Col) Colombia - ColdeportesRow 81 - Cell 2
83Koen De Kort (Ned) Argos - ShimanoRow 82 - Cell 2
84Logan Loader (USA) Team ExergyRow 83 - Cell 2
85Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 84 - Cell 2
86Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Argos - ShimanoRow 85 - Cell 2
87Serghei Tvetcov (Mda) Team ExergyRow 86 - Cell 2
88Robbie McEwen (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 87 - Cell 2
89Thimothy Roe (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 88 - Cell 2
90Jacob Rathe (USA) Garmin - BarracudaRow 89 - Cell 2
91Hugo Houle (Can) Spidertech Powered By C10Row 90 - Cell 2
92Bert Grabsch (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 91 - Cell 2
93Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 92 - Cell 2
94Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 93 - Cell 2
95Guillaume Boivin (Can) Spidertech Powered By C10Row 94 - Cell 2
96Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 95 - Cell 2
97Ken Hanson (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit StrategiesRow 96 - Cell 2
98Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 97 - Cell 2
99Matthew Wilson (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 98 - Cell 2
100Ryan Anderson (Can) Spidertech Powered By C10Row 99 - Cell 2
101Travis Meyer (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 100 - Cell 2
102Bradley White (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling TeamRow 101 - Cell 2
103Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 102 - Cell 2
104Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin - BarracudaRow 103 - Cell 2
105Jason McCartney (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling TeamRow 104 - Cell 2
106Thomas Zirbel (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit StrategiesRow 105 - Cell 2
107Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 106 - Cell 2
108Carter Jones (USA) Bissell CyclingRow 107 - Cell 2
109Josh Atkins (NZl) Bontrager Livestrong TeamRow 108 - Cell 2
110Scott Zwizanski (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit StrategiesRow 109 - Cell 2
111Ryan Eastman (USA) Bontrager Livestrong TeamRow 110 - Cell 2
112Nathan Brown (USA) Bontrager Livestrong TeamRow 111 - Cell 2
113Jonathan Clarke (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling TeamRow 112 - Cell 2
114Roger Kluge (Ger) Argos - ShimanoRow 113 - Cell 2
DNFJuan Pablo Suarez Suarez (Col) Colombia - ColdeportesRow 114 - Cell 2
DNFLaurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 115 - Cell 2
DNFMarcel Kittel (Ger) Argos - ShimanoRow 116 - Cell 2
DNFJonathan Patrick McCarty (USA) Spidertech Powered By C10Row 117 - Cell 2
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Sprint 1 - Crestline
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan5pts
2Sylvain Georges (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale3Row 1 - Cell 3
3Sébastian Salas (Can) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Sprint 2 - Fawnskin
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Sylvain Georges (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale5pts
2Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team3Row 1 - Cell 3
3Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Points
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Sylvain Georges (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale15pts
2Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale12Row 1 - Cell 3
3Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quickstep10Row 2 - Cell 3
4Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Argos - Shimano7Row 3 - Cell 3
5Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Argos - Shimano6Row 4 - Cell 3
6Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team5Row 5 - Cell 3
7Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale4Row 6 - Cell 3
8Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan3Row 7 - Cell 3
9Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team2Row 8 - Cell 3
10Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team1Row 9 - Cell 3
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Mountain 1 - Mt. Emma (cat. 4)
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1David Boily (Can) Spidertech Powered By C104pts
2Sébastian Salas (Can) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies3Row 1 - Cell 3
3Andrew Bajadali (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies2Row 2 - Cell 3
4Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan1Row 3 - Cell 3
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Mountain 2 - Wrightwood (cat. 2)
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Sébastian Salas (Can) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies10pts
2Andrew Bajadali (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies9Row 1 - Cell 3
3David Boily (Can) Spidertech Powered By C107Row 2 - Cell 3
4Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan6Row 3 - Cell 3
5Jeremy Vennell (NZl) Bissell Cycling5Row 4 - Cell 3
6Sylvain Georges (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale4Row 5 - Cell 3
7Yukihiro Doi (Jpn) Argos - Shimano2Row 6 - Cell 3
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Mountain 3 - CA 138 (cat. 3)
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Sébastian Salas (Can) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies6pts
2David Boily (Can) Spidertech Powered By C105Row 1 - Cell 3
3Andrew Bajadali (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies4Row 2 - Cell 3
4Yukihiro Doi (Jpn) Argos - Shimano3Row 3 - Cell 3
5Sylvain Georges (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale1Row 4 - Cell 3
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Mountain 4 - CA 18 (cat. 3)
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Sébastian Salas (Can) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies6pts
2Sylvain Georges (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale5Row 1 - Cell 3
3Yukihiro Doi (Jpn) Argos - Shimano4Row 2 - Cell 3
4Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan3Row 3 - Cell 3
5Jeremy Vennell (NZl) Bissell Cycling1Row 4 - Cell 3
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Young riders
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale5:07:34
2Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Argos - ShimanoRow 1 - Cell 2
3Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 2 - Cell 2
4Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team