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Paso Robles Stage 5 SPONSORS
Team RadioShack's Chris Horner Retains the Lead After the Longest Stage of the Race
PASO ROBLES, Calif. (May 19, 2011) - With the sun shining and an enthusiastic crowd cheering, 21-year-old Peter Sagan (SVK) of Liquigas-Cannondale raced across the finish line, narrowly beating Leigh Howard (AUS) of HTC-Highroad and Ben Swift (GBR) of Sky Procycling, who placed second and third, respectively, to clinch the Stage 5 win during the 2011 Amgen Tour of California in a time of five hours, 16 minutes and three seconds. The longest stage of this year's race, the 135.1-mile route was originally intended to travel along California's iconic Highway 1, but had to be modified last month when landslides blocked the road after late winter storms. The new route tested the riders' endurance and delivered a spectacular sprint to the finish in Paso Robles, Calif., after winding its way through one of the most beautiful stages in the history of the race.
"I would like to thank my teammates because without their hard work, today's win wouldn't be possible, or at the very least, it would have been more difficult," said Sagan. "I would also like to thank my sponsors because they feel this race is important as well."
Heading out of Seaside, the official start city for Stage 5, the peloton headed out in a neutral start to Laguna Seca through rolling, green hills and toward Fort Ord military base where the race officially started. Bissell Pro Cycling, who has been very aggressive in the race thus far, putting riders in every decisive break, went on the attack. But with the peloton together and moving at a brisk pace, they began the ascent of the first of four King of the Mountains competitions (KOM) of the day, a category 4 climb up Laureles Grade.
After a few failed breakaway attempts, a four-man break, comprised of three-time world champion Oscar Freire (ESP) of Rabobank Cycling Team, Christopher Froome (GBR) of Sky Procycling, Daniel Martin (IRE) of Team Garmin-Cervelo and Christopher Baldwin (USA) of Bissell Pro Cycling, formed and cleared the first KOM of the day with Freire in the lead. The first break was neutralized after the KOM but another eight riders went off the front and, 40 kilometers into the stage, had a lead of one minute and 40 seconds over the peloton as they approached the second KOM. Passing through, a group of 10 riders made it to the front, with Jonathan Patrick McCarty (USA) of Team Spidertech Powered by C10, who started the day in the California Travel & Tourism King of the Mountains Jersey, taking first in the competition.
After today's third KOM, a category 4 climb on Carmel Valley Road, the breakaway had established a three minute and 50 second lead over the group, speeding along the course ahead of the fastest projected time schedule. Team RadioShack continued to set the tempo of the peloton, keeping the break in check.
In approach of the fourth KOM, the break began to split, and McCarty and Jesse Anthony(USA) of Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth, who were battling each other for overall KOM points, began their final dual of the day. In the end, it was McCarty who gained the maximum points for the coveted Herbalife Sprint Jersey.
With U.S. Road Champion Ben King (USA) of Team RadioShack driving the peloton, Freireand Stefan Denifl (AUT) of Leopard Trek worked well together to hold steady at two minutes and 25 seconds up on the peloton with 24.5 kilometers to go. Flying downhill, it became a mission for the sprinters' teams to bring them back, but after Denifl suffered a flat, Freire was left to race toward the finish alone with 14 kilometers to go.
Stretching out single file, with Liquigas-Cannondale inflicting damage, King rejoined the front for Team RadioShack, and what was left of the break was shattered in between Freire and the peloton. With 9.9 kilometers to go, Freire's lead went from one minute, 20 seconds to one minute, 10 seconds, and with HTC-Highroad off the front, the peloton began to split on a false flat. Freire was caught with 2.4 kilometers to go, all but ending his hopes of a first place finish for the stage.
"The last part of the race was the biggest problem because Denifl got a flat," said Freire. "With two riders it was easier to ride. On the last climb I really exploded and lost almost 40 seconds; if we were still riding together I would have had a better chance to arrive. I almost won, but the peloton was too strong in the last three kilometers."
Under intense pressure, the field broke up and Sagan sped to the front to claim the stage victory, followed quickly by Howard and then Swift. After nearly six hours on the bikes, Stage 5 of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California came to a close with another all-out battle on the streets of Paso Robles.
At the end of Stage 5, Horner retains the Amgen Race Leader Jersey for the second day in a row. Building on his 2010 overall Herbalife Sprint Jersey title, Stage 5 winner Sagan claimed the green jersey for the third day in a row, and McCarty retained the California Travel & Tourism King of the Mountains (KOM) Jersey for the second day in a row. The Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey was awarded to Tejay Van Garderen (USA) of HTC-Highroad and Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey went to Freire for his aggressive riding in the breakaway throughout the stage.
"The Amgen Tour of California is a great race," said McCarty. "I did the first edition back in 2006 when Floyd (Landis) won. This is the biggest race in America and I am proud to be here and to be doing well. It is always nice to come back to America to race with so many fans."
The top-three general classification leaders remain the same with Horner in first, Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Team RadioShack in second (one minute and 15 seconds behind) and Thomas Danielson (USA) of Team Garmin-Cervelo in third (one minute and 22 seconds behind).
"It was a big ride today and the breakaway group was a bit large," said Horner. "It was a lot of work and Liquigas-Cannondale and Team RadioShack did great today. I don't think anyone had a better ride than Peter (Sagan) and me. We both had a great team looking after us, especially with the crosswinds we faced today."
Amgen's tribute to cancer survivors continued today with a Breakaway Mile celebrating Paso Robles brain cancer survivor Deleena Rankin, whose perseverance, faith and determination inspire and motivate everyone around her. Diagnosed in November 2010, Deleena has been left with limited eyesight, but she continues to remain committed to cycling to regain her strength.
The Breakaway Mile is a special one-mile walk that crosses the finish line to honor the millions of cancer survivors worldwide. During the event, Rankin was joined by approximately 100 community members - cancer survivors, patients, caregivers and advocates - and Jon Oliner, Amgen scientific executive director, who plays a crucial role in developing innovative medicines to treat cancer and other serious illnesses.
Today's Breakaway Mile was one of the race activities that support Amgen's national Breakaway from Cancer® initiative, which was created in 2005 as a complementary component to its sponsorship of the inaugural race. The Breakaway from Cancer initiative is designed to increase awareness of important resources available to people affected by cancer - from prevention through survivorship.
For access to resources or to learn more, visit www.breakawayfromcancer.com.
About the Amgen Tour of California
The largest cycling event in America, the 2011 Amgen Tour of California is a Tour de France-style cycling road race, presented by AEG, that challenges the world's top professional cycling teams to compete along a demanding course from May 15-22, 2011.
Amgen discovers, develops, manufactures, and delivers innovative human therapeutics. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realize the new science’s promise by bringing safe, effective medicines from lab to manufacturing plant to patient. Amgen therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, bone disease, and other serious illnesses. With a deep and broad pipeline of potential new medicines, Amgen remains committed to advancing science to dramatically improve people’s lives. To learn more about our pioneering science and vital medicines, visit www.amgen.com.
AEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Anschutz Company, owns or controls a collection of companies including facilities such as STAPLES Center, The Home Depot Center, Sprint Center, The O2, Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE and Times Square's Best Buy Theater; Square; sports franchises including the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), two Major League Soccer franchises, two hockey franchises operated in Europe, management of privately held shares of the Los Angeles Lakers, the Bay to Breakers foot race and the Amgen Tour of California cycling road race; AEG LIVE, the organization's live-entertainment division, is a collection of companies dedicated to all aspects of live contemporary music performance, touring and a variety of programming and multi-media production. For more information, visit AEG today at www.aegworldwide.com.
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