For the third time in a row, Levi Leipheimer (Astana) blazed his way to the top step of the Solvang Time Trial at the Tour of California. With almost the same 15-mile course as last year, Leipheimer set a time of 30 minute and 40 seconds, seven seconds faster than last year.
“I said this immediately when I finished, this time trial means the most because it was such a close race. I really respect Dave (Zabriskie); he’s one of the best time trialists in the world, and Michael Rogers is the three-time World Champion in the time trial, so to beat these guys is a big honor. It means the most since it was such a tight race; it was a great race.”
Besting four-time US Time Trial Champion David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) by eight seconds, Leipheimer increased his lead to 36 seconds and barring misshaps is pretty much assured of repeating his overall win at the Tour of California. Gustav Larsson (Saxo Bank) was third at seventeen seconds back.
Zabriskie improved his time from last year by 51 seconds and moved up to second place on GC.
“I was really looking forward to today. I knew I had the opportunity to try and win the race today, which obviously didn’t happen. Levi is a very good competitor so my hat is off to him.”
“The course today for me, compared to last year, was much easier. We had a rainy day before last year’s Time Trial, but today was a good day. It was the good kind of pain where you’re really enjoying it; it’s like energy, energy, energy. We had good weather, good people and good crowds. I had a good time.”
“I think I was happy with my ride today. It was a well balanced course. It was flat, fast, there were uphills and downhills, it was a good all-around circuit. My hat goes off to Levi, Dave and everyone really, because it’s a tough tour. I think we’re all looking forward to Sunday.”
No changes in the jerseys. Leipheimer is still in yellow. Francisco Mancebo leads the KOM, Mark Cavendish (Columbia-High Road) leads the sprint and Robert Gesink (Rabobank) is still the Best Young Rider.
The race from Santa Clarita to Pasadena proved to be a difficult one during the final stage of the 2008 Amgen Tour of California. The first 25 miles of Stage 7 includes a gradual climb from Santa Clarita, through Acton, to the intersection of Angeles Forest Road. The route continues uphill, showcasing the beauty of the San Gabriel Mountains, to the second highest elevation ever reached by the Amgen Tour of California on the towering Millcreek Summit (4,906 ft.). Descending with a 15-mile run to Angeles Crest Highway, the route begins a fast plunge to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. After more than 65 miles from Santa Clarita to Pasadena, with the mountains and the Rose Bowl serving as the backdrop, the peloton will complete the stage with five, five-mile laps on a very demanding circuit through the area surrounding the Rose Bowl. Expect the opportunist to try and make the break stick to the end.