PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
Levi Leipheimer achieved another of his pre-race goals at the Tour of California when he wore and retained the leader's jersey in his hometown of Santa Rosa on Monday afternoon. But the Gerolsteiner and the rest of the field were shown a very clean pair of heels by Argentinian sprinter Juan Jos Haedo (Toyota), who shot out of the pack 100 metres from the line and beat T-Mobile's Olaf Pollack and CSC's Stuart O'Grady by a considerable distance.
Haedo's sprint came at the end of three fast, furious laps through the streets of downtown Santa Rosa. "The team worked for me to stay safe in the front, and then I was on my own (for) the last part. I almost crashed about 1 kilometre out, but I really decided to go and win the race," said the Toyota rider. "I just went as hard as I could and I went a little bit early. It was really good, eh? I'm really surprised that I had that big a gap. With nine ProTour teams, I was really surprised and at the same time, I worked for that, and I think I kicked at the right spot. It was very emotional."
It was emotional too for local hero Leipheimer, who kept his yellow jersey to the delight of his hometown crowd. "I've been dreaming for months, training the whole winter, every day, thinking about the possibility of winning the prologue and bringing the yellow jersey into my hometown," said Levi, "and then to actually realise that dream is something I can't describe. It's an amazing feeling."
The main break of the day featured Jackson Stewart of KodakGallery.com and Jean-Marc Marino of Crdit Agricole. The pair jumped away from the peloton early on and stretched their lead to 3-20 before a concerted effort by the bunch brought them back just outside Santa Rosa.
The pair weren't sure whether they'd make it all the way to Santa Rosa alone, explained Stewart: "(Marino) was really strong and I felt that I was riding really well. But, I knew how much Levi wanted to come into his hometown with that jersey, and he showed it from the gun. We kind of had mixed thoughts if we were going to make it or not."
For substantial highlights of the prologue and Haedo's victory on stage one, go to the Tour of California website at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com
Stage 1, Sausalito to Santa Rosa
1 Juan Jos Haedo (Arg) Toyota-United Pro 129.1km in 3.14.13 (39.88kph)
2 Olaf Pollack (Ger) T-Mobile
3 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) CSC
4 Charles Bradley Huff (USA) TIAA-CREF
5 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel
6 Viktor Rapinski (Blr) Colavita Olive Oil
7 Ren Haselbacher (Aut) Gerolsteiner
8 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Phonak
9 Antonio Cruz (USA) Toyota
10 Bobby Julich (USA) CSC
1 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 3.19.06
2 Julich 0.05
3 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel 0.06
4 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak
5 David Zabriskie (USA) CSC 0.09
6 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) CSC 0.10
7 Jason McCartney (USA) Discovery Channel
8 Hayden Roulston (NZ) Health Net 0.11
9 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Discovery Channel
10 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel
11 Thomas Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 0.12
12 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto