California 7: Rinaldo Nocentini wins sprint

Leipheimer retains lead; will he coast into Escondido?

Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale) outsprinted breakaway companions Hayden Roulston (Cervélo TestTeam) and Pieter Weening (Rabobank) to win the 143km Stage 7 of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California between Santa Clarita to Pasadena Saturday afternoon.

Nocentini outsprinted what was left of the breakaway at the end of an attack-filled stage seven in Pasadena. His win brought success to his AG2R La Mondiale team, which otherwise hasn't drawn much attention during the rest of this week.

On the way up and over the day's KOM, Millcreek Summit, a 10-man break formed including Fränk Schleck (Team Saxo Bank), Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale), Markus Zberg (BMC Racing Team), George Hincapie (Team Columbia - Highroad), Roulston (Cervélo TestTeam), Chris Baldwin (Rock Racing), Weening (Rabobank), Addy Engels (Quick Step), Martin Elmiger (AG2R La Mondiale), Christian Vande Velde (Garmin - Slipstream).

AG2R was the only team with more than one rider in the break, and it worked its numbers to its advantage.

All eyes were on the winner of this stage last year, George Hincapie, but he was a marked man - not allowed to escape and forced to chase the attacks of the others.

On the final lap, Nocentini, Roulston and Weening got away from the rest of the break, and they managed to hold their slight lead until the end despite some last-minute cat and mouse action.

Levi Leipheimer (Astana) holds his overall general classification lead over fellow American Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) by 36 seconds; however, Francisco Mancebo (Rock Racing) was not so fortunate with his mountains classification lead. Mancebo crashed on a fast descent and was taken out of the race directly to a hospital for evaluation.

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