Tour of California final stage: Levi Shines in Sunny California

Discovery, CSC dominated the`07 Amgen Tour of Calfornia; Levi wins overall, Voigt close second. Proc

Discovery, CSC dominated the`07 Amgen Tour of Calfornia; Levi wins overall, Voigt close second. Proc
PIC BY GARY BOULANGER With natural attrition shrinking the peloton down from its original 144 starters just seven days ago, Californian Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel) covered 650 miles in just 24 hours, 57 minutes and 24 seconds to win the 2007 Amgen Tour of California. The seventh and final stage was held in Long Beach, with enthusiastic crowds lining the ten laps of a 7.75-mile (12.5km) circuit. Agoura Hills, California-based Ivan Dominguez (Cub) of the Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team won the stage in an electrically charged sprint to the finish. He outpaced Rabobank's Graeme Brown (Aus) and T-Mobile's Gerald Ciolek (Ger), who took second and third in the stage. Leipheimer earned the leader's golden jersey after winning last Sunday's prologue time trial along the Embarcadero and never relinquished it. Despite heavy attacks from ProTour's number one team, CSC, the Disco Boys never stopped fighting, placing Leipheimer and fellow American and teammate Jason McCartney (3ord) on the podium with Jens Voigt (Team CSC, 2nd). "This year's race was extremely competitive," Leipheimer said after the race, safely wearing the golden leader's jersey for good. "Team CSC and the other teams really put a lot of pressure on us. Without that level of competition this victory wouldn't be as satisfying as it is. It's really one of my most satisfying victories." But Discovery's gain also came at a price: the loss of George Hincapie for six to eight weeks following his surgery to repair a broken bone in his left forearm following a fluke crash early in stage 6. For Hincapie this means bye-bye to the cherished spring classics. "Obviously losing George is a big blow to our team," Leipheimer added. "Now he's going to miss the Classics. This race wasn't supposed to be so difficult for us to win. The team was put under a lot of pressure. We're looking forward to having him back. The team is not the same without him." After Leipheimer (Discovery), Voigt (CSC) and McCartney (Discovery) took all the podium places, Team CSC riders took the next three spots, securing a win for Team CSC in the team classification. "It's been an interesting race, and first of all I want to say the courses are very good. There is great potential in this race. I think it has a big future," said Bjarne Riis, Team CSC's directeur sportif. The attacks in today's stage began within the first minute of racing, and before halfway through the first lap, a breakaway group of seven riders had formed, including Team Slipstream powered by Chipotle's Danny Pate (USA), who was voted by journalists as the Adobe Most Aggressive Rider. For the first four laps, the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team chased alone, but were eventually joined by Team BMC, then Rabobank and Team CSC. The gap slowly closed, absorbing the breakaway riders by the final lap, when sprinters were moved up to the front of the peloton by their teams for the final sprint to the line. Team CSC's Argentinean freight-train and double stage winner JJ Haedo, Saturday's winner into Santa Clarita, appeared to be boxed in approaching the line and finished tenth in the stage, but claimed the Herbalife Sprints classification jersey. Other jerseys awarded today included the Union Bank Best Young Rider Jersey to Rabobank's Robert Gesink (Ned) and the California Travel and Tourism King of the Mountains Jersey to Credit Agricole's Christophe Laurent (Fra). Nearly 1.6 million fans witnessed the two-wheeled battle between 18 pro teams this past week. "In only its second year, the Amgen Tour of California continues to grow as the largest cycling event in America, and we've been proud to host the best field of cyclists ever to race on U.S. soil," said Shawn Hunter, president of AEG Sports, organizers of this year's race. "We love this sport, and we are committed to making it bigger and better every year to come. We want this race to be as important on U.S. soil as the Tour de France is in that country one day. "We've had 16 days of racing and 16 days of sunshine," he added. "I heard someone say, 'God must be a cyclist.' The race was exciting from start to finish. The communities did a wonderful job. One of the goals of the Amgen Tour of California is to make it has hard as possible on these guys, and secondly we want to showcase the state of California." Stage 7 Long Beach 147.7km circuit race results 1 Ivan Dominguez (Cub, Toyota United) 2:39:28 2 Graeme Brown (Aus, Rabobank) 3 Gerald Ciolek (Ger, T-Mobile) 4 Luca Paolini (Ita, Liquigas-Bianchi) 5 Robert Frster (Ger, Gerolsteiner) 6 Thor Hushovd (Nor, Crdit Agricole) 7 Fred Rodriguez (USA, Predictor-Lotto) 8 Henk Vogels (Aus, Toyota United) 9 Brice Jones (USA, Jelly Belly) 10 Juan Jos Haedo (Arg, Team CSC) Final classification 1 Levi Leipheimer (USA, Discovery Channel) 24:57:24 2 Jens Voigt (Ger, CSC) 0:00:21 3 Jason McCartney (USA, Discovery Channel) 0:00:54 4 Bobby Julich (USA, Team CSC) 0:01:06 5 Stuart O'Grady (Aus, Team CSC) 0:01:16 6 Christian Vande Velde (USA, Team CSC) 0:01:24 7 Michael Rogers (Aus, T-Mobile) 0:01:32 8 Ben Day (Aus, Navigators Insurance) 0:01:38 9 Franco Pellizotti (Ita, Liquigas-Bianchi) 0:01:41 10 Ryder Hesjedal (Can, Health Net-Maxxis) 0:01:57 Jerseys Overall: Levi Leipheimer (USA, Discovery Channel) Mountains: Christophe Laurent (Fra, Crdit Agricole) Points: Juan Jos Haedo (Arg, Team CSC) Young rider: Robert Gesink (Ned, Rabobank) Team: Team CSC Got a comment? 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