Australian Michael Rogers is one step closer to wining the overall at the Amgen Tour of California when he finished second in Saturday’s time trial, increasing his lead to 9 seconds over David Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions), and 25 seconds on defending champion Levi Leipheimer (Radioshack).
Making it even sweeter for the HTC-Columbia team was Tony Martin setting the fastest time of 41:41 over the 20.9 miles (33.6 km) course in downtown Los Angeles. After working hard all day yesterday to bring back numerous attacks, Martin found his legs today to set an average speed of 30 mph (48 kmh) over a 2-lap course with turns, potholes and swirling winds.
“The wind made it very very tough. The wind was swirling, coming from all directions it seemed, it was never really a tailwind or a headwind, it just seemed to be swirling through the buildings. The road conditions were also very bad, a lot of bumps. There were a few times where I thought I’d punctured but maybe that was just me , in my head.” chuckled Rogers. “It was a tough time trial. Also coming after six days of tough racing especially after yesterday’s mountain stage. Well they don’t call them the race of truth for nothing.”
Martin knew that he was on a good ride as the team car was relating the split times of his teammate Bert Grabsch who held the fastest time early on.
“I heard at the beginning that had 30 seconds and that grew to one minute.” said Martin. “I knew that was a really good time because Grabsch was leading the race, that motivated me to go really deep. At the beginning of the race I didn’t know if I had the legs to make a really good time trial today because I had to work yesterday really hard.”
Three-time World Time Trial Champion Rogers was 22 seconds slower. Current US National Time Trial Champion Zabriskie finished third at 27 seconds down. Leipheimer came in fourth at 33 seconds down and Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) rounded off the top five at 59 seconds from the winner.
“I’m disappointed of course. I was a little bit off but went pretty good. I don’t think the race is over yet, I would say that even if I was in the leader’s jersey.” said Zabriskie. “It’s not over until it’s over. Tomorrow is a very hard course. Having surveyed the course, it can be windy, there are a couple of good climbs. Not all that much fun.”
Martin was awarded Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider Jersey. Thomas Rabou (Team Type 1) has a commanding lead in the California Travel & Tourism King of the Mountains (KOM) Jersey. Rogers will retain the Amgen Race Leader Jersey, and Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo) the Herbalife Sprint Jersey and the Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey.
One more stage. The race concludes with the very tough 83.5 miles (134.3 km) Thousand Oaks/Westlake Village/Agoura Hills Circuit Race, four 21-mile loops with the challenging climb on Mulholland and numerous switchbacks.
“I am very confident with Bert Grabsch, Bernie Eisel, young Tejay, Tony, I think we have a strong team. From what I hear it’s a very difficult circuit with a tough climb. It’s not over, it’s far from over but saying that I think that we’re one step closer today.” said Rogers who is expecting Garmin-Transitions and Team Radioshack to attack on the climb on Sunday.
“My job tomorrow is to mark the top GC guys, if they move I move. We can expect a lot of attacks from guys that are a bit further down the GC and my team will be there to cover them.” Rogers continued. “We’re real excited, we think we can do it. A lot of people doubted us before the start of this stage and said that we couldn’t do it but we took one step closer today.”
Sunday is also the final chance for a domestic team to take the win. Watch for all the teams to throw attack after attack to get the stage win.
Top 10 Stage 7 Results (Complete Results)
1. MARTIN Tony THR 00.41’41”
2. ROGERS Michael THR +00.00’22”
3. ZABRISKIE David GRM +00.00’27”
4. LEIPHEIMER Levi RSH +00.00’33”
5. VOIGT Jens SAX +00.00’59”
6. GRABSCH Bert THR +00.01’06”
7. TJALLINGII Maarten RAB +00.01’12”
8. HORNER Christopher RSH +00.01’19”
9. SUTHERLAND Rory UHC +00.01’19”
10. HUNTER Robert GRM +00.01’21”
Top 10 GC After Stage 7 (Complete Results)
1. ROGERS Michael THR 29.46’06”
2. ZABRISKIE David GRM +00.00’09”
3. LEIPHEIMER Levi RSH +00.00’25”
4. VOIGT Jens SAX +00.01’12”
5. SUTHERLAND Rory UHC +00.01’26”
6. HORNER Christopher RSH +00.01’32”
7. SAGAN Peter** LIQ +00.01’34”
8. HESJEDAL Ryder GRM +00.01’46”
9. BRAJKOVIC Janez RSH +00.02’10”
10. DANIELSON Thomas GRM +00.02’21”
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