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Nocentini wins in Pasadena

  • By John Wilcockson
  • Published Feb. 21, 2009
  • Updated Aug. 4, 2010 at 4:47 PM EDT

By John Wilcockson

2009 AToC, stage 7: Nocentini outsprinted Roulston and Weening.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

It can be difficult to judge just how difficult a race is until you can make a direct comparison with a previous result. That was the case Saturday, when enormous crowds, probably the biggest of the week, showed up at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to see the finale to stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California. This stage from Santa Clarita was identical to the one that George Hincapie won 12 months ago, when he covered the 89-mile course in a time of 3:50:57. This year, the time of stage winner Rinaldo Nocentini of AG2R-La Mondiale was 26 minutes faster!

There were better weather conditions this year — warm sunshine rather than cold rain — but the difference was mainly due to the quality and the number of attacks that preceded an eventual breakaway of 10 riders, headed by Nocentini, Columbia-Highroad’s Hincapie, and Saxo Bank’s Fränk Schleck.

2009 Amgen Tour of California
Stage 7, Santa Clarita to Pasadena, 143.2 km (88.9 miles)

Winner: Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r) in 3:24:43
Leader: Levi Leipheimer (Astana)
Winner’s average speed: 41.9 kph (26.04 mph)
Rabobank Best Young Rider: Robert Gesink (Rabobank)
Best Team: Astana
Herbalife Sprint Leader: Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad) 36 points; Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) 28 points; Tom Boonen (Quick Step) 24 points
Amgen Couragous Award: Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream)
California King of the Mountains Leader: With Francisco Mancebo (Rock Racing) crashing out, Sax Bank’s Jason McCartney takes over the lead with 29 points, followed by Tyler Hamilton (Rock Racing) with 22, and Serge Pauwels (Cerveolo) with 17.
Peloton:The following riders dropped out: Mark Renshaw (Columbia); Francesco Chicchi (liquigas); Jacopo Guarnieri (Liquigas); Stepahen Goubert (Ag2r); Thomas Frei (BMC) Peter Lathan (Bissell), Luis Romero (Colavita); Phillip Gaimon (Jelly Belly); and Francisco Mancebo (Rock Racing). 97 riders are expected to start Sunday’s stage.
Up next: The final stage from Rancho Bernardo to Escondido is 155.8 km (96.8 km). It includes the highest point of this year’s race, 5,100-foot Mount Palomar, followed by the difficult Cole Grade before a fast finish.

“There were a lot of attacks with riders dangerous to the GC,” said Astana’s race leader Levi Leipheimer. “We always had to chase them down and it took a while before there was a breakaway that we could agree upon.”

That break emerged on the upper slopes of the interminable, but not overly steep climb to the 4,930-foot Millcreek Summit in the Angeles National Forest, 80 minutes into the stage. Nocentini, a 31-year-old Italian, was the only rider who had a teammate, Martin Elmiger, in the break. “It wasn’t planned,” he said.

The other six were Christian Vande Velde of Garmin-Slipstream, Peter Weening of Rabobank, Addy Engels of Quick Step, Markus Zberg of BMC, Hayden Roulston of Cervélo TestTeam and Chris Baldwin of Rock Racing. “It was just a brutal day,” Vande Velde said. “I thought I was really bad, and then I realized that we were all in the same boat.”

The 10 leaders worked hard to gain three minutes by the top of the mountain, a climb that merited only a Cat. 3 rating; but it was like a Cat. 1 descent. The long, twisting downhill helped push the breakaway’s lead to 4:30 by the time the riders reached warmer temperatures in crowd-packed Pasadena, but the rapid descent also caused several crashes. The worst one happened to the event’s King of the Mountains leader, Paco Mancebo of Rock Racing, who collided with a small rock in the road and fell on his arm and head; he suffered a concussion, a broken hand and a fractured elbow, and lost the KOM jersey to Saxo Bank’s Jason McCartney.

With Schleck and Hincapie only 6:30 down on GC before Saturday’s stage, Leipheimer’s men, including Lance Armstrong, had to make a strong chase on the first couple laps of the hilly 4.7-mile Rose Bowl circuit to cut the break’s gap to three minutes. At the same time, the riders in the front began ferociously attacking each other.

“Obviously, George was the man to watch in the group,” said his assistant team director Allan Peiper. “He’s won here before and everyone in the break knew he wanted to win again. A couple of guys would get away, he’d get across to them or get across with a couple of other guys, get the gap, and the group would chase and get back on. That happened at least 10 times.”

2009 AToC, stage 7: Nocentini, on the far side, nipped Roulston.

Photo: Courtesy

Hincapie said he was frustrated by the tactics adopted by the others in the break. “As long as I wasn’t in the split, the guys were happy,” he told VeloNews. “I felt it was really negative racing. Nobody wanted to take me to the line. I was really disappointed, but that’s racing. Schleck was aggressive and I was aggressive, and it was a strong break. Only strong guys were there.”

The most impressive move came from Luxembourg champ Schleck, who is targeting the Tour de France this year. On the steepest hill, just inside two laps to go, Schleck bolted clear in the style that won him the Amstel Gold Race in 2006. He said he was getting goose bumps as he sprinted between 10-deep crowds, just like the ones he’s experienced in the classics and grand tours.

It looked like the winning move, but the other riders didn’t panic, and began a steady chase. “We did it together,” said Hincapie, who was still hopeful of getting a repeat victory. “There were so many attacks, and I tried to go with everything I could. I was hoping that I would get a little collaboration, but it didn’t happen.”

Soon after Schleck was brought back, others continued the attacks. “In the end, Weening attacked on the last lap and Nocentini and Roulston got across to him,” Peiper said. “The others were all watching George. He tried to bridge again but even if he had kept it together, they were going to work him over before the sprint.”

2009 AToC, stage 7: Chris Baldwin leads the break over the top of the climb.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

The three leaders had to continue their flat-out paceline until inside two miles to go, when Rabobank’s Weening, a Tour de France stage winner in 2005, made the first of several surges, knowing he didn’t have the sprint to overcome Nocentini or New Zealand’s 2008 Olympic track medalist Roulston.

“I didn’t know how fast the other two were,” Nocentini said, “so I followed them in the final kilometer and made my sprint very late.” The Italian took a straight line and, head down, he threw his bike at the line to just take out a weary Roulston, who veered too far to the left in his desperate bid for the victory.

“Because of the quality of the field here, the top riders in the world, this was probably my best victory,” Nocentini said. “The previous best was a stage win on Mont Faron at the Mediterranean Tour two years ago.”

He added, “I’m really happy because I lost my chance for the GC when I crashed on the second stage. We also lost our best riders early in the week. One was sick, one crashed and one came here with a bad knee. I think this was the best stage to make a break because it will be too hard tomorrow.”

2009 AToC, stage 7: Hincapie makes a bid to repeat at the Rose Bowl.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Even bigger crowds are anticipated for Sunday’s final stage of 97 miles between Rancho Bernardo and Escondido. It features four climbs, including the above-category Palomar Mountain, 43 miles into the stage. Fans will have to get there early or face a long walk because police are closing the climb to non-race traffic at 9 a.m. Sunday.

Those lucky enough to get on the slopes of the 13-mile climb should see a great show. Leipheimer and his Astana men will have to be at their best. They will closely watch the runners-up, Dave Zabriskie of Garmin and Michael Rogers of Columbia, who are each within 45 seconds of Leipheimer; but they will also need to resist the expected attacks from Rabobank’s Robert Gesink, who’s 1:54 down in seventh place, Columbia’s Thomas Lövkvist, 1:29 down in fifth place, and Saxo Bank’s Jens Voigt, 1:10 down in fourth.

“There’s only one day to go,” said Leipheimer, who’s hoping to clinch his third Amgen Tour in a row, “but it was not an easy day.” It’ll be even harder on Sunday.

Photo Gallery

Results

Stage 7 results: | (GC standings ),
1. Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA), Ag2r La Mondiale in 3.24:43
2. Hayden Roulston (NZL), Cervelo TestTeam at same time
3. Pieter Weening (NED), Rabobank at same time
4. Markus Zberg (SUI), Bmc Racing Team, at 7s
5. Martin Elmiger (SUI), Ag2r La Mondiale, s.t.
6. Chris Baldwin (USA), Rock Racing, s.t.
7. George Hincapie (USA), Team Columbia-High Road, s.t.
8. Fränk Schleck (LUX), Team Saxo Bank, s.t.
9. Christian Vande Velde (USA), Garmin-Slipstream, s.t.
10. Addy Engels (NED), Quick Step, s.t.
11. Thor Hushovd (NOR), Cervelo TestTeam, at 2:19
12. Pedro Horrillo Munoz (ESP), Rabobank, s.t.
13. Nick Reistad (USA), Jelly Belly Cycling Team, s.t.
14. Kiel Reijnen (USA), Jelly Belly Cycling Team, s.t.
15. Bauke Mollema (NED), Rabobank, s.t.
16. Yaroslav Popovych (UKR), Astana, s.t.
17. Dominique Rollin (CAN), Cervelo TestTeam, s.t.
18. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Astana, s.t.
19. David Zabriskie (USA), Garmin-Slipstream, s.t.
20. Thomas Danielson (USA), Garmin-Slipstream, s.t.
21. Mathias Frank (SUI), Bmc Racing Team, s.t.
22. Steven Cozza (USA), Garmin-Slipstream, s.t.
23. Jeremy Vennell (NZL), Bissell Pro Cycling, s.t.
24. Daniel Oss (ITA), Liquigas, s.t.
25. Jens Voigt (GER), Team Saxo Bank, s.t.
26. Glen Chadwick (NZL), Rock Racing, s.t.
27. Timothy Johnson (USA), OUCH Presented By Maxxis, s.t.
28. Freddy Rodriguez (USA), Rock Racing, s.t.
29. Tyler Farrar (USA), Garmin-Slipstream, s.t.
30. Ben Jacques-maynes (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling, s.t.
31. Enrique Gutierrez (ESP), Rock Racing, s.t.
32. Walle Jurgen Van De (BEL), Quick Step, s.t.
33. Christopher Horner (USA), Astana, s.t.
34. Thomas Lovkvist (SWE), Team Columbia-High Road, s.t.
35. Michael Barry (CAN), Team Columbia-High Road, s.t.
36. Tom Boonen (BEL), Quick Step, s.t.
37. Ben Day (AUS), Fly V Australia P/b Successful Living Foundation, s.t.
38. Stef Clement (NED), Rabobank, s.t.
39. Grischa Niermann (GER), Rabobank, s.t.
40. Mark Cavendish (GBR), Team Columbia-High Road, s.t.
41. Robert Gesink (NED), Rabobank, s.t.
42. Kevin Seeldraeyers (BEL), Quick Step, s.t.
43. Kevin Hulsmans (BEL), Quick Step, s.t.
44. Lance Armstrong (USA), Astana, s.t.
45. Jeffry Louder (USA), Bmc Racing Team, s.t.
46. Michael Rogers (AUS), Team Columbia-High Road, s.t.
47. Janez Brajkovic (SLO), Astana, s.t.
48. Oscar Sevilla (ESP), Rock Racing, s.t.
49. Christophe Riblon (FRA), Ag2r La Mondiale, s.t.
50. Thomas Peterson (USA), Garmin-Slipstream, s.t.
51. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA), Liquigas, s.t.
52. Frank Pipp (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling, s.t.
53. Brian Vandborg (DEN), Liquigas, s.t.
54. Valeriy Kobzarenko (UKR), Team Type 1, s.t.
55. Karl Menzies (AUS), OUCH Presented By Maxxis, s.t.
56. Alessandro Vanotti (ITA), Liquigas, s.t.
57. Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (COL), Rabobank, s.t.
58. Hubert Dupont (FRA), Ag2r La Mondiale, s.t.
59. Sebastian Haedo Lucas (ARG), Colavita/sutter Home P/b Cooking Light, s.t.
60. Matthew Wilson (AUS), Team Type 1, s.t.
61. Bradley White (USA), OUCH Presented By Maxxis, s.t.
62. Kevin De Weert (BEL), Quick Step, s.t.
63. Gustav Larsson (SWE), Team Saxo Bank, s.t.
64. Cameron Evans (CAN), OUCH Presented By Maxxis, s.t.
65. Adam Hansen (AUS), Team Columbia-High Road, s.t.
66. Alexandre Moos (SUI), Bmc Racing Team, s.t.
67. Floyd Landis (USA), OUCH Presented By Maxxis, s.t.
68. José Haedo Juan (ARG), Team Saxo Bank, s.t.
69. Brett Lancaster (AUS), Cervelo TestTeam, s.t.
70. Carlos Barredo (ESP), Quick Step, s.t.
71. Rory Sutherland (AUS), OUCH Presented By Maxxis, s.t.
72. Kjell Carlström (FIN), Liquigas, s.t.
73. Marco Velo (ITA), Quick Step, s.t.
74. Patrick McCarty Jonathan (USA), OUCH Presented By Maxxis, s.t.
75. Stuart O’Grady (AUS), Team Saxo Bank, s.t.
76. Jason Mccartney (USA), Team Saxo Bank, s.t.
77. Lopez De Castro Inigo Cuesta (ESP), Cervelo TestTeam, s.t.
78. Andy Schleck (LUX), Team Saxo Bank, s.t.
79. Serge Pauwels (BEL), Cervelo TestTeam, s.t.
80. Christopher Jones (USA), Team Type 1, s.t.
81. José Luis Rubiera Vigil (ESP), Astana, s.t.
82. Carlos Sastre Candil (ESP), Cervelo TestTeam, s.t.
83. Gregory Rast (SUI), Astana, at 3:44
84. Steve Morabito (SUI), Astana, s.t.
85. Bernard Van Ulden (USA), Jelly Belly Cycling Team, at 16:06
86. Tyler Hamilton (USA), Rock Racing, s.t.
87. Ian Mckissick (USA), Bmc Racing Team, s.t.
88. Andy Guptill (USA), Colavita/sutter Home P/b Cooking Light, s.t.
89. Davide Frattini (ITA), Colavita/sutter Home P/b Cooking Light, s.t.
90. Tyler Wren (USA), Colavita/sutter Home P/b Cooking Light, s.t.
91. Aaron Olson (USA), Colavita/sutter Home P/b Cooking Light, s.t.
92. Curtis Gunn (USA), Fly V Australia P/b Successful Living Foundation, s.t.
93. Matthew Crane (USA), Jelly Belly Cycling Team, s.t.
94. Will Routley (CAN), Jelly Belly Cycling Team, s.t.
95. Svein Tuft (CAN), Garmin-Slipstream, at 8:09
96. Tom Zirbel (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling, s.t.
97. Trent Lowe (AUS), Garmin-Slipstream, at 8:10
GC standings | ( Stage results ),
1. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Astana in 27.39:02
2. David Zabriskie (USA), Garmin-Slipstream,
3. Michael Rogers (AUS), Team Columbia-High Road, at 45
4. Jens Voigt (GER), Team Saxo Bank, at 1:10
5. Thomas LÖvkvist (SWE), Team Columbia-High Road, at 1:29
6. Lance Armstrong (USA), Astana, at 1:46
7. Robert Gesink (NED), Rabobank, at 1:54
8. Janez Brajkovic (SLO), Astana, at 1:59
9. Christopher Horner (USA), Astana, at 2:13
10. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA), Liquigas, at 2:21
11. Thomas Danielson (USA), Garmin-Slipstream, at 2:24
12. José Luis Rubiera Vigil (ESP), Astana, at 2:48
13. Kevin Seeldraeyers (BEL), Quick Step, at 2:57
14. Oscar Sevilla (ESP), Rock Racing, at 3:37
15. Fränk Schleck (LUX), Team Saxo Bank, at 4:09
16. Walle Jurgen Van De (BEL), Quick Step, at 4:15
17. George Hincapie (USA), Team Columbia-High Road, at 4:23
18. Christian Vandevelde (USA), Garmin-Slipstream, at 5:01
19. Bauke Mollema (NED), Rabobank, at 5:44
20. Grischa Niermann (GER), Rabobank, at 6:08
21. Hayden Roulston (NZL), Cervelo TestTeam, at 6:20
22. Gustav Larsson (SWE), Team Saxo Bank, at 6:25
23. Lopez De Castro Inigo Cuesta (ESP), Cervelo TestTeam, at 6:56
24. Ben Jacques-maynes (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling, at 6:56
25. Carlos Barredo (ESP), Quick Step, at 7:18
26. Enrique Gutierrez (ESP), Rock Racing, at 7:55
27. Pieter Weening (NED), Rabobank, at 7:55
28. Yaroslav Popovych (UKR), Astana, at 8:16
29. Thomas Peterson (USA), Garmin-Slipstream, at 8:52
30. Martin Elmiger (SUI), Ag2r La Mondiale, at 9:17
31. Kevin De Weert (BEL), Quick Step, at 9:56
32. Floyd Landis (USA), OUCH Presented By Maxxis, at 10:26
33. Hubert Dupont (FRA), Ag2r La Mondiale, at 10:47
34. Dominique Rollin (CAN), Cervelo TestTeam, at 11:14
35. Jeremy Vennell (NZL), Bissell Pro Cycling, at 12:22
36. Frank Pipp (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling, at 12:25
37. Steven Cozza (USA), Garmin-Slipstream, at 13:04
38. Tom Zirbel (USA), Bissell Pro Cycling, at 13:22
39. Stuart O’Grady (AUS), Team Saxo Bank, at 15:55
40. Jason McCartney (USA), Team Saxo Bank, at 16:17
41. Glen Chadwick (NZL), Rock Racing, at 18:44
42. Cameron Evans (CAN), OUCH Presented By Maxxis, at 19:04
43. Andy Schleck (LUX), Team Saxo Bank, at 19:12
44. Patrick Mccarty Jonathan (USA), OUCH Presented By Maxxis, at 19:22
45. Rory Sutherland (AUS), OUCH Presented By Maxxis, at 20:11
46. Alexandre Moos (SUI), Bmc Racing Team, at 20:31
47. Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA), Ag2r La Mondiale, at 21:52
48. Ian Mckissick (USA), Bmc Racing Team, at 22:19
49. Svein Tuft (CAN), Garmin-Slipstream, at 22:26
50. Markus Zberg (SUI), Bmc Racing Team, at 22:56
51. Valeriy Kobzarenko (UKR), Team Type 1, at 23:46
52. Tom Boonen (BEL), Quick Step, at 24:14
53. Thor Hushovd (NOR), Cervelo TestTeam, at 24:37
54. Timothy Johnson (USA), OUCH Presented By Maxxis, at 26:05
55. Gregory Rast (SUI), Astana, at 26:21
56. Addy Engels (NED), Quick Step, at 26:48
57. Will Routley (CAN), Jelly Belly Cycling Team, at 27:12
58. Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (COL), Rabobank, at 27:53
59. Sebastian Haedo Lucas (ARG), Colavita/sutter Home P/b Cooking Light, at 27:54
60. Matthew Wilson (AUS), Team Type 1, at 28:20
61. Steve Morabito (SUI), Astana, at 28:52
62. Mathias Frank (SUI), Bmc Racing Team, at 28:54
63. Christopher Jones (USA), Team Type 1, at 29:03
64. Bradley White (USA), OUCH Presented By Maxxis, at 29:17
65. Brian Vandborg (DEN), Liquigas, at 29:32
66. Stef Clement (NED), Rabobank, at 30:41
67. Serge Pauwels (BEL), Cervelo TestTeam, at 31:21
68. Mark Cavendish (GBR), Team Columbia-High Road, at 31:58
69. Chris Baldwin (USA), Rock Racing, at 32:14
70. Michael Barry (CAN), Team Columbia-High Road, at 32:29
71. Brett Lancaster (AUS), Cervelo TestTeam, at 32:46
72. Pedro Horrillo Munoz (ESP), Rabobank, at 32:53
73. Nick Reistad (USA), Jelly Belly Cycling Team, at 33:01
74. Davide Frattini (ITA), Colavita/sutter Home P/b Cooking Light, at 33:14
75. José Haedo Juan (ARG), Team Saxo Bank, at 33:17
76. Marco Velo (ITA), Quick Step, at 33:17
77. Christophe Riblon (FRA), Ag2r La Mondiale, at 33:44
78. Tyler Farrar (USA), Garmin-Slipstream, at 33:46
79. Matthew Crane (USA), Jelly Belly Cycling Team, at 34:39
80. Kevin Hulsmans (BEL), Quick Step, at 34:50
81. Kiel Reijnen (USA), Jelly Belly Cycling Team, at 35:01
82. Kjell CarlstrÖm (FIN), Liquigas, at 35:13
83. Ben Day (AUS), Fly V Australia P/b Successful Living Foundation, at 36:16
84. Adam Hansen (AUS), Team Columbia-High Road, at 36:28
85. Jeffry Louder (USA), Bmc Racing Team, at 36:42
86. Carlos Sastre Candil (ESP), Cervelo TestTeam, at 37:09
87. Karl Menzies (AUS), OUCH Presented By Maxxis, at 37:28
88. Trent Lowe (AUS), Garmin-Slipstream, at 37:42
89. Daniel Oss (ITA), Liquigas, at 39:09
90. Tyler Wren (USA), Colavita/sutter Home P/b Cooking Light, at 39:24
91. Alessandro Vanotti (ITA), Liquigas, at 41:58
92. Freddy Rodriguez (USA), Rock Racing, at 42:12
93. Bernard Van Ulden (USA), Jelly Belly Cycling Team, at 46:04
94. Aaron Olson (USA), Colavita/sutter Home P/b Cooking Light, at 46:52
95. Tyler Hamilton (USA), Rock Racing, at 49:25
96. Curtis Gunn (USA), Fly V Australia P/b Successful Living Foundation, at 50:15
97. Andy Guptill (USA), Colavita/sutter Home P/b Cooking Light, at 55:15
.

FILED UNDER: Amgen Tour of California / Race Report / Race Results / Road

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