Tour of California Stage 1: Sausalito to Santa Rosa, 155.8km / 96.8mi

- by Cathy Mehl / photo © Graham Watson

Feb 18, 2008 - Traveling over the historic Golden Gate Bridge via car before hopping on bikes in the waterfront city of Sausalito best known for its houseboat neighborhoods, stage one of the Amgen Tour of California rolled through the redwoods of the Muir Woods and into Team Astana rider Levi Leipheimer's home town of Santa Rosa. Known for being a bike-friendly city as well as avid supporters for Levi, the city did not disappoint in it's third time to host the finish for stage one.

Speaking from the podium after the stage finish, Levi told the race announcer Jeff Roark "I feel good, and yesterday to be fourth in the prologue was a good result for me. Fabian is the best in the world and did a special ride yesterday. But I'm happy to be here, and just look at this! The crowd gets bigger and better every year!" Roark pointed to the "Let Levi Ride" button he was wearing, stating that the goal is to get 100,000 signatures on the petition to allow Levi and Team Astana to race in the 2008 Tour de France. Levi thanked the sponsors and fans who began the grassroots effort to prove to the Tour organizers that fans around the world want to see the team race in France this July.

*** Watch Chris Horner's video comments after Stage 1 at VeloNews.com

After completing three neutral laps in Sausalito the peloton rode an easy pace all together until BMC rider Jackson Stewart took off after 15k of racing and managed to maintain a gap that eventually went out to over 12 minutes. The 27-year old California resident collected all of sprint points and time bonuses available on the course, as well as the KOM points for being first over the top of Coleman Valley Road on the only climb of the day.

The team of race leader Fabian Cancellara (CSC) managed to up the speed of the chase with help from the teams of Slipstream and High Road and by the time Stewart was past the summit the gap was quickly coming down. By 30k to go Stewart's brave ride was over and the peloton was all together for the mad dash into the town center of Santa Rosa.


Chris Horner out enjoying the day

Quick Step looked especially motivated to work for their world class sprinters Tom Boonen and Paolo Bettini as most of the team moved to the front upon entering the first of three laps in the finishing circuits. With the pace increasing on each lap Team High Road joined in the action too, with Team CSC showing strong protection for Cancellara's race lead by keeping him up front and out harm's way. Claiming his 5th stage win in the Amgen Tour of California Juan Jose Haedo (CSC) launched for the line and beat out German sprinters Gerald Ciolek (High Road) and Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner) who grabbed second and third. Cancellara maintained his race lead as Haedo took the green jersey for best sprinter, Stewart was awarded the most combative for his solo ride, and Ciolek took the jersey for Best Young Rider.

While the men were still heading toward Santa Rosa, the first women's criterium was contested in the Amgen Tour of California. Racing on the same circuit the men used for the conclusion of today's stage, over 100 women raced for an hour to the loud and enthusiastic cheers of the big crowd lining the barriers. The race was won by Brooke Miller (Tibco) taking the lead on the line in front of Cheerwine's Laura Van Gilder.

Tuesday's stage two takes the peloton to the state capital of Sacramento on another day of incredible racing at the Amgen Tour of California. While the weather is forecasted to be cool with possible showers there is sure to be a big crowd offering a warm welcome as the riders continue on their tour of the Golden State.

Beyond the Finish Line: The redwood is the official state tree of California and is the world's tallest tree, growing up to 370 feet (113 m) tall. Although they can reach heights of nearly 40 stories tall, their root systems are only 10 feet deep. Instead of growing down, the shallow roots of the Redwood tree grow out, and spread sideways up to 250 feet (75 m) from the trunk.

Stage 1 Standings:
1 Juan Jose Haedo (Arg) Team CSC 4.03.29 (38.37 km/h)
2 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) High Road
3 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner
4 Dominique Rollin (Can) Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team
5 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick Step
6 Tyler Farrar (USA) Slipstream Chipotle Presented by H30
7 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner
8 Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
9 Freddie Rodriguez (USA) Rock Racing
10 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank

13 Christopher Horner (USA) Astana
20 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana
22 Aaron Kemps (Aus) Astana
29 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana
117 Jos Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa) Astana 9.52
118 Sergey Ivanov (Rus) Astana
119 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Astana
120 Andrey Mizurov (Kaz) Astana

General classification after stage 1
1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC
2 Tyler Farrar (USA) Slipstream Chipotle Presented by H30 0.02
3 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) High Road 0.04
4 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 0.06
5 David Millar (GBr) Slipstream Chipotle Presented by H30 0.07
6 Gustav Larsson (Swe) Team CSC 0.08
7 David Zabriskie (USA) Slipstream Chipotle Presented by H30
8 Benjamin Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling 0.09
9 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) High Road
10 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Slipstream Chipotle Presented by H30 0.10

14 Christopher Horner (USA) Astana 0.12
29 Aaron Kemps (Aus) Astana 0.17
46 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana 0.21
117 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Astana 10.05
119 Andrey Mizurov (Kaz) Astana 10.08
120 Sergey Ivanov (Rus) Astana 10.10
121 Jos Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa) Astana 10.15

* Results courtesy www.cyclingnews.com