Santa Cruz, CA – Dominant on Stage 1, Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) continued his run of form in the finishing straights of Stage 2 of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California.
Despite being involved in a crash late in the stage, as well as another puncture, the 22-year-old Slovak cruised to his second win in as many days. Australians Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda) and Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEDGE) finished in second and third, respectively.
“I don’t know, maybe it takes a natural disaster,” said Sagan, when asked what it would take to stop his winning ways, noting he suffered an untimely punctured tire three miles from the finish yesterday and still won Stage 1. “I am feeling good. I will see tomorrow (to make it three straight wins),” he continued.
Amidst breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Bridge and Angel Island, Stage 2 of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California got underway in San Francisco and headed south over the climbs of Empire Grade and Bear Creek Road.
In Pacifica, the riders contested the first sprint of the day. Howard, Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank) and Bradley White (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team) took the top three placings of the intermediate sprint.
Shortly thereafter, a break of six racers, including White, Jeremy Vennell (Bissell Pro Cycling), Michael Creed (Team Optum Powered by Kelly Benefit Strategies), Lloyd Mondory (AG2R La Mondiale), Juan Pablo Suarez (Colombia-Coldeportes); and Alexandre Geniez (Team Argos-Shimano) was established.
The second intermediate sprint would go to White, Vennell and Mondory, in that order.
Fifty miles into the race, the break had a comfortable lead of nine minutes and 45 seconds. After passing through the feed zone, the Garmin-Barracuda led peloton began to work and quickly narrowed the gap to five minutes and 50 seconds on Bonny Doon, the first King of the Mountain (KOM) climb of the day.
With the pressure firmly applied from behind, only three riders remained in the break – White, Vennell and Geniez – with a lead of four minutes and 20 seconds. Geniez would attack out of the lead group in a late attempt to steal the stage and established a small gap.
Behind the tete de la course, a crash occurred, taking down several riders, most notably Sagan, George Hincapie (BMC Racing) Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank), Andres Diaz Corrales (Team Exergy), and Josh Atkins of the Bontrager Livestrong Team. All those involved would get back on their bikes and continue, with Ten Dam inadvertently pacing Sagan back up to the field.
Geniez would claim the top KOM points on Empire Grade, but with 35km to go, he would be caught by the peloton
“It was a very hard day,” said Vennell, a former National Time Trial champion of New Zealand. “The descent off Bonny Doon was pretty scary.”
Several late attacks during the finale, the most significant by Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare Procycling) were quickly foiled by the sprinters' teams who jockeyed for position. In the closing meters, Sagan launched and cruised easily to the line for his second victory of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California.
Results - Stage 2 - San Francisco - Santa Cruz County (188.5km)
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale - 5:02:00
2. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin - Barracuda
3. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
General Classification After Stage 2
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale - 9:44:15
2. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin - Barracuda - 0:00:08
3. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team - 0:00:13
4. Jeffry Louder (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team - 0:00:14
5. Fred Rodriguez (USA) Team Exergy - 0:00:16
6. Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Cycling
7. Marc De Maar (AHo) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team - 0:00:17
8. Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan - 0:00:19
9. Josh Atkins (NZl) Bontrager Livestrong Team
10. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team - 0:00:20
Jersey Leaders After Stage 2
Amgen Race Leader - Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
Visit California Sprint - Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
Rabobank Best Young Rider - Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
Nissan King of the Mountain - David Boily (Can) Spidertech Powered By C10
Amgen Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider - Jeremy Vennell (NZl) Bissell Cycling
Exergy Most Aggressive Rider - Alexandre Geniez (Fra) Argos - Shimano
As with yesterday, since Sagan will be wearing the Amgen Race Leader Jersey at the start of tomorrow’s stage, the Visit California Sprint Jersey will be worn by Haussler and the Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey will be worn by Atkins.
Today’s Breakaway from Cancer activities featured cancer survivors and long-time Breakaway from Cancer supporters Blaine and Ellen Mauldin, husband and wife, who fired the official start gun together to begin the stage, and cancer survivor Marilyn Luma had the honor of awarding Vennell with the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider jersey.
“Amgen wants patients and their caregivers, physicians, policymakers, and the public to better understand the contributions the biotechnology industry makes toward advances in medicine,” said Stuart Arbuckle, vice president and general manager, Amgen Oncology. “That’s why Amgen is proud to sponsor the Amgen Tour of California and to continue the Breakaway from Cancer® initiative as a vehicle to raise awareness of the important resources available to people affected by cancer – from prevention through survivorship.”
Amgen created the national Breakaway from Cancer initiative in 2005 as a complementary component to its sponsorship of the inaugural Amgen Tour of California. Through Breakaway from Cancer, Amgen and its four nonprofit partners are dedicated to empowering patients with education, resources, and hope. For access to resources or to learn more, visit breakawayfromcancer.com.
Next: Stage 3 - Tuesday, May 15 – San Jose to Livermore (115.3 mi/185.5 km)
Start Time: 11:15 a.m. PT
Estimated Finish Time: 3:24 – 4:32 p.m. PT
Satellite Feed Time: 4:50 – 5 p.m. PT
Stage 3 will begin in San Jose, the only city to have played host to the Amgen Tour of California all seven years of the race. This year, the typical downtown start has been moved to north San Jose, just a few miles from the infamous Sierra Road climb. While the riders won’t be expected to tackle a Category 1 climb just two miles from the start as they have been in the past, the route into Livermore is one that the race has taken before: Calaveras Road and Highway 84.
While Livermore will be hosting their first stage finish in 2012, riders have raced through the town during previous editions including the Stage 4 start in 2011.
Just 28 miles into the race, the riders will contest a challenging sprint to the finish but the race will just be getting started. Heading out north on Livermore Avenue, the riders will likely face a stiff headwind coming down the valley. After passing through the town of Danville, the riders will climb Mt. Diablo for the first time in the history of the race. One of the most revered climbs in California, race organizers, cyclists and fans alike are excited to have this climb as part of Stage 3 of the 2012 race.
After a fast and technical descent into Walnut Creek, the race will then head east into the Town of Clayton where the second sprint of the stage will take place. From Clayton, the race will connect back to a familiar route into Livermore. Just nine miles from the finish, the riders will likely tackle blustery winds as they battle the final KOM of the stage up Patterson Pass Road followed by a quick descent that will take the race onto Cross and Tesla roads. On Livermore Avenue once again, it will be just a few miles to what is sure to be a sprint finish in historic downtown Livermore. At tomorrow’s finish line, Amgen will host one if its Breakaway Mile events, which will honor Livermore’s Breakaway from Cancer Champion Bob Hammer, a cancer survivor who founded the “Have a Ball” Foundation, which has raised more than $1 million since its inception and benefits 20 cancer support organizations. The Breakaway Mile is slated to begin about an hour before the professional cyclists cross the finish line of Stage 3 of the Amgen Tour.
Photos: © Leonard Basobas/LB Photos