UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Enters Final Stage of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California
Mt. Baldy Village, CA – Stage 7 of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California began in the City of Ontario earlier today en route to its finish at the top of Mt. Baldy’s 6,445-foot summit, and just a few miles from the start the highly anticipated fireworks began, resulting in the expected shakeup in the General Classification. Robert Gesink (NED) of the Rabobank Cycling Team was able to emerge victorious while Team Colombia-Coldeportes’ Jhon Atapuma (COL) finished second followed by his Columbian teammate Fabio Andres Arevalo Duarte in third place.
The plan for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team was to put two riders in the break and go for the stage. And for a Team that has been “all in” from the start, they went after it from the outset. Brad White (USA) has been impressive throughout the Tour and got in the break early, giving everything he had for Teammate Marc de Maar (CUR) in an effort to set him up for the finish. But despite the Herculean effort from White and de Maar, the boys in the blue and white of UnitedHealthcare were unable to hold off the field and the relentless pursuit from Rabobank, BMC and Garmin on the chase.
Rory Sutherland (AUS) entered the day 8th in the overall standings. He was protected by his Teammates and they gave him the best opportunity they could to increase his position in the GC. Sutherland battled hard against the pure climbers in the epic mountains of the Tour’s Queen Stage to finish 17th. Philip Deignan (IRE) crossed the line right behind Sutherland and his 18th place finish put two UnitedHealthcare riders in the top 20 of the race’s most grueling stage.
General Manager and Team Director, Mike Tamayo, said, “We knew going in that a pure climber was more than likely going to win the stage. So, we worked to get in the breakaway and the boys executed spectacularly. Brad (White) was an amazing Teammate today, setting Marc up for the finishing climb, but the field never allowed the time gap to get out too far.”
The 2012 Amgen Tour of California concludes in what promises to be a short but electrifying race from Beverly Hills to Downtown Los Angeles at LA Live.
OPTUM PRO CYCLING
Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies and Sebastian Salas survived one final brutal day of climbing on Mt. Baldy today, keeping Salas in the polka dot Nissan King of the Mountains jersey after seven stages of all-out team effort. Although a considerable amount of K.O.M. points were still available on Baldy, the lead established by Salas one day earlier on Big Bear Mountain was enough to all but clinch the polka dots. The day came down to survival.
"We knew essentially all we had to do today was keep Sebastian safe from the time cut in
the mountains, which, given how he's been climbing all week, wasn't a huge concern, but you never know what can happen on Mt. Baldy," said Performance Director Jonas Carney. "We instructed the team to make absolutely certain that Sebastian was safe up these climbs, and they did a great job sheltering him through what turned about to be a really fast day."
The pace was cranked up almost immediately as the big guns would battle for the overall victory at the Amgen Tour of California. After a dangerous breakaway containing Radioshack-Nissan-Trek's defending champion Chris Horner escaped early, the Garmin-Barracuda team took the front and began to apply pressure as the road turned upward. The race promptly fell apart, but it was mathematically impossible for anyone to take the polka dots off Salas' back, unless David Boily of Team Spidertech could win the stage, a difficult task to say the least. Salas knew all he had to do was grit his teeth and ride as hard as possible to claim the jersey.
Did you know that Sebastian is Columbian and speaks fluent Spanish? Neither did we.
"Luckily the K.O.M. competition is about points, and the team has done a great job all week helping me gather lots of them leading into today," said Salas after the race. "Today was a really hard day of climbing once again. We have done something like 60,000 feet of climbing and 31 hours of riding so far this week. It is by far the most I have done in my life in that span of time, and I am humbled to be holding onto this jersey heading into the final day."
As an added bonus, Mike Creed delivered an incredibly strong performance after a week of crucial support roles. He made it with the highly selective front group all the way to the base of the final ascent up to Mt. Baldy, far and away the most difficult climb of the race.
"My goal today was to finish in the top 15 on the stage, but unfortunately I came up a bit short," said Creed. "The positive is that I have been feeling stronger and stronger all week, which is a great sign for the USPRO Road Race Championship next weekend."
As the ProTour's top climbers attacked each each other relentlessly on the trip to the top, Creed held tough, finishing 26th on the stage, the second highest placed domestic rider.
"Creed has worked so hard all week supporting Sebastian Salas and Alex Candelario as they worked for the K.O.M. jersey and stage wins.
He is an incredible teammate and it was great to give him a chance to race for himself today on such a tough course."
The final day of racing promises to be epic, with a flat course running from Beverly Hills to L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles. It will be a day for the sprinters, televised live in 200 countries on NBC. The team will look to deliver sprinter Ken Hanson, who has suffered through day after day of climbing for a chance to cross the line in front on the biggest stage seen yet.
Team SpiderTech’s Lucas Eusser, a natural climber, took part of the early break of 15 riders in the opening climbs, but was eventually dropped out as a group of five riders decided to attack and take control of the race.
Every stage of the 2012 Tour of California is broadcast on television in Canada on SportsnetOne. Check your local listings for more information.
Fans from across the world can follow the race live through the RadioShack Tour Tracker, which delivers race coverage across web, mobile and tablet viewing platforms via live video, audio and real-time data streams using the tested Tour Tracker technology.
Follow Team SpiderTech on Twitter at www.twitter.com/teamspidertech for live updates from the caravan. You can also follow your team on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamspidertech .
Omega Pharma Quickstep
Levi Leipheimer showed he is making significant strides in his recovery and training on Saturday at the 126km Stage 7 of Tour of California, finishing 9th in a select group that produced eventual race winner and new GC leader Robert Gesink (Rabobank). Leipheimer is also 6th in the GC. Peter Velits, who was 4th in the GC going into the stage, finished 24th and is now 20th overall.
"Today was a hard day," Levi Leipheimer. "The pressure was on all day, but I think that's normal. At the bottom of the steep part here I felt good, then bad, then felt good again and caught up with the guys who dropped me."
"I think fans could ask for anything more," Leipheimer said. "It was full gas. We couldn't have gone any faster. It was just a steady, hard chase the whole day. It was fun. It hurts, but it was fun."
"I never would've thought I would've ridden that well today," Leipheimer said. "The start of the race, the first stage I was just hanging in there at the end of the race. I was dead and thought, 'I don't know, this is going to be a tough week.' I showed today I've improved a lot and am on track for July."
"I am definitely aiming for the Tour de France," Leipheimer said. "I'm not going to try and defend the jersey in Switzerland. I'm not in that condition yet. I think it's best to go to Switzerland for training and put everything for July. That's my timeline. I don't want to force it. I want to let my body catch up."
"I don't know what happened today," Velits said. "I felt good on the first and second climb, but then, when we started to do the up and down before the last 9km, I was completely empty. Suddenly I had no power. It's a shame. I knew the climb from last year and I could have done a good race. It was a bad day, now I have to turn the page and stay focused on the next races."