It has been said that Californians love their cars, and perhaps none more so than the residents of Los Angeles County, where traffic is as regular an occurrence as the sun rising and setting. But on Saturday, traffic was virtually non-existent in downtown Los Angeles as the Amgen Tour of California hit the streets.
Enthusiastic fans lined up along the streets of downtown Los Angeles to welcome world-class cyclists from 16 professional teams for Stage 7, an Individual Time Trial consisting of two laps around a 10.5-mile course that streamed by several of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, including Walt Disney Concert Hall, the University of Southern California, the LA Coliseum and STAPLES Center.
In the race against the clock, the boys from San Luis Obispo, SLO, ruled the day as Team HTC-Columbia teammates Tony Martin and Michael Rogers, a three-time individual time trial world champion and current holder of the golden Amgen Leader Jersey, finished one-two, respectively.
“I’d never been to Los Angeles before, so to race here in such a big city was really spectacular,” said Martin. “It was very good to race here and the road was perfect.”
One of the early starters, Martin, a revelation in the General Classification of last year's Tour de France, set the early mark of 41 minutes and 41 seconds. But with the top riders on the GC, including Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare presented by Maxxis), Levi Leipheimer (Team RadioShack), Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo), David Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) and Rogers, yet to come no one anticipated Martin to remain in the hot-seat for long.
Ultimately, no one would come over the top of Martin’s time.
Perhaps the most anticipated but most disappointing ride of the day was that of three-time defending champion, Leipheimer, who would slot into fourth place with a time of 42 minutes and 14 seconds.
Results - Stage 7
1. Tony Martin (Ger) Team HTC-Columbia
2. Michael Rogers (Aus) Team HTC-Columbia
3. David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Transitions
Rogers retained the overall lead in the 2010 Amgen Tour of California, holding a slim 9 second lead over second placed, Zabriskie, and 25 seconds on Leipheimer.
“I think taking the Amgen Leader Jersey tomorrow would be the biggest win of my career, in terms of a stage race,” said Rogers. “This would be a highlight for me. There’s a huge emphasis on this race and I think it would be a dream come true, not only for me, but for the whole team in general.”
General Classification - After Stage 7
1. Michael Rogers (Aus) Team HTC-Columbia
2. David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Transitions
3. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Radioshack
4. Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank
5. Rory Sutherland (Aus) Unitedhealthcare Presented by Maxxis
6. Christopher Horner (USA) Team Radioshack
7. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo
8. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions
9. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Team Radioshack
10. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Transitions
Jersey Leaders - After Stage 7
Amgen Race Leader Jersey - Michael Rogers (Aus) Team HTC-Columbia
Herbalife Sprint Jersey - Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo
California Travel and Tourism Commission King of the Mountains Jersey - Thomas Rabou (NED) Team Type 1
Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey - Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo
Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Jersey - Tony Martin (Ger) Team HTC-Columbia
Next: Stage 8 - Thousand Oaks/Westlake/Agoura Hills - (134.3km)
Photo: Getty Images