Spaniard racer Francisco Mancebo (Rock Racing) broke away at the start line in Davis and stayed away to win the 173km Tour of California Stage 1 into Santa Rosa. He also grabbed the leader's golden jersey.
Belgian Jurgen van de Walle (QuickStep) took second place in front of Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas). Prologue winner Fabian Cancellara abadoned the race at the feed zone. The Saxo Bank rider was suffering from a fever and was reportedly throwing up last night.
Mancebo stunned the entire Tour of California by attacking from the gun on the first full stage and staying clear of the chasing favorites group to win the stage and take home the yellow jersey. On a cold and rainy day, the Rock Racing rider was joined by OUCH Pro Cycling's Tim Johnson and David Kemp (Fly V Australia) after 32 miles of racing.
The three riders built up a maximum lead of 12 minutes on the peloton, which began to pick up the pace as the leaders headed up the category two climb of Howell Mountain Road, but with 45 miles remaining, Mancebo left his two companions behind on on the climb and never looked back. Johnson and Kemp were absorbed on the descent by an elite group of favorites which had split from the peloton on the ascent.
That group contained last year's winner Levi Leipheimer and his teammates Lance Armstrong, Christopher Horner and José Luis Rubiera. Also included were the Saxo Bank duo Andy Schleck and Jens Voigt, Thomas Lövkvist and Michael Rogers (Team Columbia - Highroad), David Zabriskie (Garmin - Slipstream), Kevin Seeldraeyers and Walle Jurgen Van De (QuickStep), Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema (Rabobank), Ivan Basso (Liquigas), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Floyd Landis, Rory Sutherland and Jonathan Patrick McCarty (OUCH p/b Maxxis) and Oscar Sevilla (Rock Racing).
This group managed to pull the lone leader back to a five minute advantage on the final climb, but by the time Mancebo entered the finishing circuits with 10 miles to go, he still enjoyed a three minute lead on the group and the peloton had not closed in to help the chase.
The group, led mainly by Armstrong, pulled Mancebo back to a minute over the next two circuits, but an attack by Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) and Jurgen Van de Walle (Quick Step) disrupted the chase. The two riders bridged up to the leader on the final circuit, but Mancebo still found enough strength to use the short uphill leading to the finish to distance his companions and win the stage.
The chase group of Leipheimer finished nearly two minutes in arrears, a rather unexpected result for last year's overall winner, while the main peloton finished more than five minutes behind.
Mancebo, 32, won the best young rider jersey in the 2000 Tour de France, and placed top 10 four times, the highest being fourth in 2005. He was linked to the infamous Operación Puerto doping case and like Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich, was not allowed to start 2006 Tour de France when racing for AG2R Prévoyance. He decided to retire from professional cycling, but changed his mind, and moved to Relax-Gam. He signed with Rock Racing in the fall of 2008.
A very wet, excited and tired Francisco Mancebo will be in the leader's golden jersey heading across the Golden Gate Bridge Monday morning